Senecas in seventh heaven

Calvert brought the pressure.

Fremont St. Joe didn’t handle it.

The Streaks committed 12 first-quarter turnovers, scored only five points in the first half, went scoreless in the second quarter and lost to the Senecas, 61-21 Thursday. The Senecas improved to 7-0 overall, 3-0 in the Midland Athletic League.

“We actually put in two more press breaks,” St. Joe coach Dennis Martin said. “But they’re physically strong. They manhandled us. But they have experience. They’re seniors. They’ve been through the wars together.”

Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said he told his team before the game that defensive intensity was a priority.

“We didn’t do much trapping like we normally do with our press, we just went straight man-to-man, and made them handle the ball against us,” Ritzler said. “I thought our on-the-ball defense was good. That’s the best team defense we’ve played all year.”

And with good defense came solid offense.

Calvert’s Nicole Bickley got things rolling, making the game’s first four baskets to give the Senecas an 8-0 advantage with 4:47 left in the first quarter. Two Taylor Ritzler free throws made it 10-0, then a Kate Brickner 3 made it 13-0.

And the run still wasn’t over.

Brickner again got open, this time on the left corner, and buried another trey. The game was barely five minutes old, and the Streaks already were in a 16-point hole.

“Once you see the ball go into the basket, no matter who it is on the team, you start to relax a little bit once you get into the game,” Ritzler said. “So coming off those first couple of minutes and getting those easy baskets, kind of breaking the tension of the offense and establishing that we can go inside … when they started collapsing, that just opened some things then to set some screens on the perimeter.”

Brickner took full advantage. She hit four 3-pointers and outscored the Streaks by herself, putting up 25 points. Bickley finished with 12 points. Brickner and Bickley were the only Senecas to score in double figures, but 10 Calvert players scored overall.

St. Joe finally got its offense going a little in the second half. It outscored the Senecas 12-11 in the third quarter, led by Ashley Burns, who had eight of her team-leading 14 points.

Calvert got a little sloppy in the third, turning the ball over seven times. Calvert’s bench was heavily involved in the second half, as Ritzler wanted to give his starters a break. The Senecas play at Toledo Christian tonight.

“We still wanted to come out and play hard and do things right on defense,” Ritzler said. “To not have a letdown. It’s hard to stay motivated when you get a comfortable lead at halftime, but we talked about just continuing to do things right, and then offensively we wanted to slow it down a little bit.

“We had a lot of turnovers in the second half; [St. Joe] picked up their intensity, and picked up their pressure, and we didn’t respond to it very well,” Ritzler said.

St. Joe slipped to 3-5, 1-3 in the MAL.

“There’s a reason (the Senecas) are undefeated,” Martin said. “And there’s a reason we’re young. We’ll be OK.”

Today begins a tough two-game stretch for the Senecas. After facing the Eagles, Calvert will host Indiana commit Amanda Cahill and state powerhouse Clyde at Heidelberg.

“This is what we want,” Ritzler said. “We want to find out how good we really are.”