Calvert’s late rebounds make the difference

It would be easier to make a list of players who didn’t hit big shots Friday.

Calvert got numerous big shots from Kate Bricker and Taylor Ritzer, while Ashley Perry came off the bench to hit a big 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and Lindsay Bickley also hit a go-ahead jumper.

For Mohawk, Julie Adelsperger hit just about everything. Kasey Adelsperger, Clara Adelsperger and Taylor McClain hit big baskets late to give their team leads.

But on a night where so many people hit so many clutch shots, the two biggest plays turned out to be rebounds.

With Calvert clinging to a 51-50 lead in the final minute, and a potential go-ahead shot for Mohawk off the mark, Margaret Bowers fought her way through Mohawk’s post to pull down the rebound for the Senecas.

Shortly after, following a missed foul shot, Nicole Bickley crashed the offensive glass for another big rebound, putting it back in for two.

Mohawk couldn’t convert two last-second 3-point attempts and Calvert grabbed an emotional 53-50 victory.

“It feels great,” Bickley said. “We all worked together and really worked at the end to get that win.”

“We needed this,” Kate Brickner added. “This really gives us some momentum into the later part of our season. We got a lot of makeup games and some good teams we’re going to play. Still keeps our chances of an MAL (title) open. I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of how everyone stepped up in the second half.”

It was the first time Calvert took the court since an overtime loss last Thursday to Carey. After that loss, Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said one or two plays made the difference. Friday, his team made those plays.

“That was the thing about last week, we talked to the girls; in a close game it’s one or two plays here or there that you got to make, and tonight we made those plays,” he said. “We got the big defensive rebound with Margaret getting fouled and then Nicole getting the offensive rebound putback. That’s the one or two plays, one or two bounces you need to win a close game like this against a good team.”

The lead changed hands 14 times on the night, seven times in the fourth quarter.

Mohawk held a 3-point lead entering the final frame, but that was erased quickly on Perry’s 3-pointer from the corner. Julie Adelsperger knocked down a 3-pointer of her own – her sixth trifecta of the night – to put her team back in front, but the teams traded baskets down the stretch until Brickner hit two foul shots with 47.2 seconds left that put Calvert in front for good.

From there it was just a matter of making a defensive stop, and pulling down the key rebounds.

“We wanted one stop, then were going to have to foul us. And we got that one stop,” coach Ritzler said. “We didn’t convert the free throw, but again, Nicole came up with a big play there at the end.”

“I knew a smaller girl was on me, so I knew I had that rebound,” Bickley said. “And I put it right back up. I was really confident in myself.”

Mohawk coach Mike Beck said Bickley’s late rebound was key, and also pointed to a play earlier in the quarter, where another Bickley offensive rebound led to two more points.

“Actually in the fourth quarter there were two offensive rebounds we let (Bickley) have for them,” he said. “One was on the free throw. It would make a huge difference with Julie coming down with the ball in her hand only down one, compared to, we have to go for 3. Makes it a little tougher when we have to go for 3. And I thought earlier she got an offensive rebound to get two easy points that hurt us. When you’re in a three-point game, every one of those rebounds are very important.”

Foul trouble played a role for both teams. At one point in the second quarter, Mohawk had four starters saddled with two fouls. With three of them on the bench, Calvert built an eight-point lead, led mostly by Bricker, who scored 16 of her 20 points in the first half.

Mohawk whittled the lead down to four at halftime, and put together a third quarter run of its own to jump ahead by six, 37-31.

Julie Adelsperger led the way for Mohawk with 25 points to go along with eight rebounds.

“An incredible night, no doubt about it,” Beck said. “Her play over the last four or five games has just continued to rise and to blossom. She’s really taken a lot on her shoulders because she’s on the top of our defense and just plays the heck out of that. She gets involved with as many traps as she can, and deflects a lot of passes. She puts so much energy into all areas of the game, and to have 25 points, she had to be dead tired. To me that’s an incredible performance.”

Calvert sat with only two third quarter points with roughly a minute left in the period, when Ritzler hit two clutch shots including a late 3-pointer to cut the lead to three to start the fourth.

“I got my third foul and they’re like ‘Don’t foul anymore,'” she said. “So then I started standing around the perimeter looking for open shots. Kate drove, kicked it out and hit me on the 3.”

After her monster first half, Brickner was slowed in the second. She said she expected the defense to be tougher, but she also expected her teammates to step up.

“I was hungry. I wanted to come out; I wanted to make my mark,” she said of her strong first half. “I knew I probably would get guarded a little better in the second half. I was counting on my teammates step up and they did and I was proud.”

Nobody stepped up more than Ritzler who finished with 16 points. Nicole Bickley added 10 points and nine rebounds. Coach Ritzler said Brickner’s first half went a long way into opening things up for other players.

“Kate hitting some shots early really opened up some things for us. She was doing a good job coming off screens and we were doing a good job getting her the ball,” he said. “Second half they really started locking down on her, they were running two people at her at times. But, it opened some things up for other people and that’s what we’ve talked about all year. When we make shots we’re a good team. We needed other people to step up tonight and Taylor had a big game for us.”

He also praised the play of his bench on a night where just about everyone had to step up.

“I thought our bench did a great job,” he said. “Sam (Beckley) coming off the bench made some big plays for us early. Ashley hit a big 3 for us. We feel like we got a deep bench, and if we have to go deep into our bench and the other team has to go deep into theirs, that’s an advantage for us.”

And that advantage helped Calvert improve to 11-4 on the season, 4-2 Midland Athletic League. Mohawk’s record evens up at 8-8, 4-4.