There’s no place like home.
It’s been a while since Calvert was able to play a game in its home gym – 26 days to be exact.
The homecoming couldn’t have gone much better for the Senecas. Not only did they take care of business against visiting Old Fort, they got an added bonus with Mohawk knocking off New Riegel, leaving the Senecas atop the Midland Athletic League’s standings as the conference’s lone unbeaten team.
Calvert coach Tim Ritzler admitted he wasn’t sure what to expect from his team when it took the floor against Old Fort, coming off a holiday break. Any doubts he may have had were erased early on as his team scored the game’s first 14 points, rolling to a 60-26 victory.
“It’s always interesting to see how we come out coming off a break like this, haven’t had a lot of practice lately with New Years and Christmas and that,” Ritzler said. “We wanted to come out and make sure we were sharp. I thought we did a good job of that, came out with some intensity early. It’s a league game, it’s our first home game in about a month, so the girls were excited to get back in the gym. I think that helped get us ready for this one.”
Calvert used a balanced offensive attack with three players – Kate Brickner, Megan Funkhouser and Olivia Smith – each scoring six points in the first quarter to build a 23-5 lead at the first stop.
“That’s what we have with our girls, very unselfish, they like to share the ball. They always find the open person,” Ritzler said. “It just seems like whoever’s going to lead our team in scoring is going to be the person that works the hardest to get open. Tonight it looked like Kate led us again with 16. She did a nice job of getting out, running the floor, attacking the hoop. Our girls find the open person and tonight it was her.”
“I think it’s awesome that we all can find each other. We got really good scorers on our team, we’re very well-rounded,” Brickner added.
Brickner scored eight more in the second as Calvert worked the lead up to 43-14 by halftime. Her 16 points led 11 Senecas who scored in the game. Funkhouser and Smith each added eight while Marisa Horn chipped in six.
Alanna Widman was tops on the glass for Calvert (7-3, 4-0) with nine rebounds. Margaret Bowers grabbed seven.
As good as the Calvert offense was, the defense may have been even better. In the first half, the Senecas forced Old Fort into more turnovers (16) then it had points (14).
When the Stockaders could get an offense going, they couldn’t get many open looks. Calvert held Old Fort to an 8-for-46 shooting performance for the game.
“That’s one thing we’ve been able to do all year long, is force turnovers,” Ritzler said. “One thing I challenged our girls with is, our defense has to be better when we’re not forcing turnovers. We give up a lot of open shots if we don’t force turnovers. So, I told the girls we still want to be able to create turnovers, create points for ourself, but at the same time we got to be better defensively when we’re not forcing turnovers, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”
Brickner said when more of the MAL’s top teams come up on the schedule, Calvert’s defense will be what has to carry it.
“That’s what we’re working on, we want to get better defensively mostly,” she said. “That’s going to be what’s going to win our games.
“I think we’re doing good, I just want to beat those big teams that we haven’t beat yet. … I just want to get a big win.”
Despite going into the locker room at halftime down 29, Old Fort coach Jennifer Miller was pleased with how her team came out and played in the second half.
“The second half was one of the better halves we played all season,” she said. “Calvert’s 4-0 now in the MAL. I think they were a little nervous looking at our record to their record. I wish we could’ve adjusted a little quicker. I’m really proud of the way they turned it around in the second half. They played hard, they hustled, they had intensity, they just got after things. They were where they were supposed to be. As much as we were down, any team can come out, heads hanging saying ‘we lost, games over,’ but they didn’t.”
Miller hopes her team can continue that level of play the rest of the season.
“I just told them, ‘Everything you felt in that second half, the way you played, how tired you were and worked through that fatigue, you got to take all of that and carry it over. Carry it over to practice and carry it over to games. You can’t let it slip. The way we played, it’s got to be like that the rest of the season now.'”
Old Fort (0-11, 0-4) was led by Shelby Bilger with seven points. Sam Hartsel collected eight rebounds.