Second-half drought ends TC upset bid

Payge Smith converted a short jump shot as the second quarter clock hit 1:22.

The Tornadoes were playing well against 15-win Norwalk. Smith’s basket tied the game at 23, and a short time late, the teams went in for halftime tied at 25.

The Tornadoes, who had gotten a few Truckers into foul trouble and went to the line 17 times, appeared to have the momentum.

But it didn’t carry over.

Smith’s basket at the end of the first half proved to be the final field goal of the game for the Tornadoes, who missed their last 12 shots in 52-34 loss.

“We got good looks, we didn’t finish,” said Columbian coach Katie Fazekas after the Tornadoes dropped to 3-18, 1-10 in the Northern Ohio League. “The energy was good; I’m proud of the seniors. They came out, played well together, played hard.”

Saturday marked Columbian’s final home game – and final regular season game – of 2013-14. It travels to Old Fort to play powerhouse Clyde in the sectional semifinals Tuesday.

Some Tornado seniors closed out their home careers with solid performances. Mckenzie Zimmerman had seven points and seven rebounds, while Smith finished with four points, six rebounds.

“I thought Mckenzie left it all on the court,” Fazekas said. “Payge had some good offensive moves.”

Norwalk coach Brock Manlet wasn’t pleased with the way his squad performed in the first 16 minutes.

“I thought the first half we got totally outplayed,” Manlet said. “I thought we got outhustled, we got outrebounded. They were quicker to balls than we were. We challenged them at halftime, and we were a totally different team after halftime.”

The Truckers – who didn’t make a 3-pointer – began taking control under the basket. They began the third quarter on a 12-0 run. Columbian only was able to break up the stretch because Manlet was whistled for a technical foul, and Valesha Province made the subsequent foul shots.

In all, the Tornadoes managed just three points in the third quarter and nine in the second half, all off free throws.

“We all stepped up,” said Norwalk’s Sydnie Fetherolf, who had the unenviable task of covering Province. “We were getting in the spots, help side, where we needed to be, and that limited their shots.”

Manlet said Fetherolf is one of the best defenders in the league.

“Syd does a good job individually on the ball,” Manlet said. “The second half, our help defense, with the other people was very good.”

Fetherolf scored six points, while the Truckers were led by Alicia Lortcher, who had a team-best 14 points and 12 rebounds, despite picking up her fourth foul in the third quarter. Morgan Turner had 10 points.

Columbian was paced by Province’s 13 points.

Before the game, Columbian honored all of its seniors, including Sidney Baker, who started, and Marisa Stephens, who came off the bench.

“We’re really proud of all of them,” Fazekas said. “They’ve been good leaders for the program, set good examples for the underclassmen and really laid the foundation for the future.”