St. Wendelin’s defense, third-quarter surge power win over Calvert

The defense is there.

The offense? That’s another story.

That was St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith’s assessment Thursday after his team upended Calvert, 37-19.

It was Calvert’s final game of the regular season. St. Wendelin finishes Saturday at Van Buren.

The Mohawks won by a large margin despite shooting just 13 of 40 from the field and 4 of 10 from the foul line. But they made seven 3s, and improved to 8-13, and 5-7 in the Sandusky Bay Conference River.

Smith said with his team’s shooting, “bad” would be an improvement.

“We play relatively good defense; we usually put together a good gameplan, and the girls follow it pretty good defensively,” he said. “But offensively, we can’t put it in the basket for them. If we would just shoot bad, we would have 20-point leads, the way we play defense.”

As it was, St. Wendelin did, briefly, have a 20-point lead in the third quarter. After an anemic offensive showing from both squads in the second period, the Mohawks led Calvert 12-8.

But St. Wendelin got rolling after the break. Hailee Burns nailed a 3 from the right corner, Sydney Johnson made a jumper from the wing, and Burns connected again from 3 to push the Mohawks’ lead to 20-8 with 4:45 left in the period.

Then the Mohawks went inside, as Peighton Troike and Hannah Burns each made two baskets, and the lead was 28-8 with 1:40 remaining.

It was a 16-0 run to start the second half.

“The girls came out (after) halftime and played a little better,” Smith said. “I think we had a decent first quarter and a decent third quarter.”

It was a tough third for the Senecas (3-18, 2-10), who didn’t score until Shelby Hemminger’s two free throws 6:38 in. What was worse was that they lost senior Clare Sullivan to an ankle injury during the SW run.

“They hit, like, three 3s, within the first few minutes there,” Calvert coach Pat Herron said. “That kind of took the air out of us a little bit.”

In the fourth quarter, Calvert’s offense starting clicking, and St. Wendelin’s stopped. The Senecas had scored the final five points of the third, then went on a 6-0 run to start the fourth, getting within 28-19 after a stickback by Mallary Nielsen with 3:38 left in regulation.

“I can’t say this enough, how proud I am of how they hustled,” Herron said. “I mean, we could be down 30 points and they’d still keep hustling. (We) did that tonight on defense. We were getting turnovers there, I think it was the fourth quarter when we started getting them, a little bit late.”

St. Wendelin committed seven of its 16 miscues in the final quarter. And Calvert probably would have pulled even closer to the Mohawks had it not gone just 2 of 11 from the foul line in the fourth, which included twice missing the front end of a 1-and-1. The Senecas finished 6 of 19 from the stripe.

Even with his team struggling offensively late, Smith said he didn’t get too concerned, even when the lead was cut to nine.

“I figured our defense wouldn’t let up nine,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was nervous. I was disappointed in the shot selection, disappointed again in missing some 2- and 4-footers, but never thought the game was ever gonna turn … once we got (up) 14 of 15, I knew, even if we stopped scoring, we would probably hold off.”

The Mohawks did finally score, ending the game on a 9-0 run that included 3s from Troike and Hailee Burns. It was Hailee Burns who finished as St. Wendelin’s leading scorer, making four 3s to end with 13 points. She also had six rebounds, tying for the team lead with Troike. Cailin Reineck had eight points and Troike had seven.

“It’s a good win,” Smith said. “We play hard; (we) play hard from the beginning until the end.”

Calvert’s Claire Thompson and Hemminger paced Calvert with six points each. Sullivan was held scoreless, but did return to the game in the fourth quarter.

The Senecas will open the postseason Tuesday in Bascom against Mansfield Christian.

“I think it’s a good match,” Herron said.