Rossford steals one away from?Columbian

Ideally, the worst thing that should’ve happened to Columbian was overtime. The Tornadoes were tied with Rossford and had the ball in their hands as the fourth quarter clock ticked under a minute.

Columbian coach Katie Fazekas was waiting to call timeout and draw up a possible game-winning play.

Rossford’s Julie Hotz never let things get to that point.

Hotz came up with a steal, raced coast-to-coast and laid it in at the other end to give her team 47-45 lead with 40 seconds to play.

Another turnover followed on Columbian’s next possession and Rossford escaped with a 49-45 win.

“I asked how many timeouts we had, and as soon as I asked, they stole it,” Fazekas said. “I wanted to hold it for the last shot. We were supposed to run the clock out and call timeout at 20 seconds. But, we turned it over so that didn’t work out.”

“We worked really hard on pushing the ball and getting out on the offense. It was a big play,” Hotz said. “We were talking about in the huddle, to overplay them and get a steal and push out and get a layup.”

It worked.

“That’s Julie. She’s been doing it all year,” Rossford coach Eric Simon said. “She rises up, typical senior. She’s our leader. Sometimes early in games she defers a little bit. And then sometimes I have to get on her, all the coaches do, about taking over a little bit. But we strive to be a team first then individual. Greatness will find its way within the team. At the end, she was fine, which she has been most times this year.”

Hotz finished with 16 points to lead her team, 12 of which came in a second half during which the Bulldogs erased a nine-point Columbian lead at the break.

Valesha Province got Columbian going early, knocking down four 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Tornadoes built a 17-5 lead. Rossford’s offense began to find itself in the second quarter, but Sidney Baker hit a pair of trifectas herself as Columbian went into the locker room with a 25-16 lead.

Coming out, though, Rossford took over. Three minutes into the period, the nine-point Columbian lead had turned into a three-point Rossford advantage after a long range shot from Maddie York.

“We’ve talked before about consistency. And we came out of the half and we told them at halftime, ‘Quick start in the third quarter.’ And we did exactly the opposite of that,” Fazekas said. “Rossford came out strong and we didn’t, we crumbled. The kids fought back, once it happened, but you can’t squander a lead like that.”

According to Simon, there was no real change from the first half to second, except in the end results.

“Nothing, just keep taking the shots,” he said when asked what changed. “They were the same shots, they just didn’t fall the first half. Maybe it’s just that rim, ’cause both teams seemed to score more on that end. That’s about it. We took the same shots, just started making them.”

Rossford’s lead got as big as seven points late in the third, but another 3-pointer from Province cut the lead to four to start the fourth.

Columbian got baskets from Payge Smith, Province and Baker to open the final period, but each time Rossford (8-4) came back with an answer to keep it from getting tied up. Columbian, though, was able to knot the game after Rossford was assessed a technical foul for too many players on the court.

Chelsea Hutchins got a layup to briefly give Columbian a lead with 2:33 to play, but Hotz answered at the other end to even things back up, and set up the final stretch.

Province led Columbian (1-12) with 24 points, Smith and Baker each added eight, but the rest of the team combined for just five.

For Fazekas, the problem came from her team’s play in the paint.

“Six of 26 in the paint,” she said. “We need somebody to step up in the post. We got to be able to score in the paint. We’re giving up tons of paint points, and we’re not getting any. That’s the bottom line. We’re getting the shots. Six of 26, that’s 52 points left on the board, can’t do it.”