Chieftains dominate Senecas

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Hopewell-Loudon’s Makayla Elmore (3) defends Calvert’s Hannah Burns during the game in Tiffin Monday.

Considering Hopewell-Loudon and Calvert play in the opening round of the Division IV tournament Feb. 21 at Oak Harbor, in the grand scheme of things, the non-league matchup Monday wasn’t all that important.

It didn’t look that way to the Chieftains.

H-L scored fast and furious early as it ran out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and didn’t slow up as the Chieftains dismantled the Senecas, 70-27.

A big reason for the lopsided win was Hopewell-Loudon’s pressure defense, which caused 18 Calvert turnovers and countless deflections. Once they got a turnover, they ran the floor and finished with some easy baskets.

“That’s the way we play. I mean, if they don’t play hard, they hear it from me,” H-L coach Bob Gase said. “I never have to tell them to play hard or play with effort even in practice. If you play hard in practice you’ll play hard in the game.

“The girls take pride (in the press). That’s what gets us going. If we can get some turnovers and get that pace of the game going for us. These seniors have been with me for three years now, they have really grown up.”

Having 6-foot-4 freshman Makayla Elmore doesn’t hurt either.

Elmore put on a clinic in the first half Monday with her size and athleticism. Whether it was running the floor, cleaning up the boards or draining a 3-pointer, there is a lot to like if you’re Gase, or a lot to dread for Calvert coach Pat Herron.

Elmore dropped in 31 points — 21 in the first half — and pulled down 10 rebounds for H-L (17-4).

“They have some really good athletes and we got off to a really slow start and missed some layups early,” Herron said. “That is stuff that might keep you a little closer, but no doubt they are a good team.

“Elmore as a freshman, is more mature than most juniors or seniors as far as playing basketball and she’s hard to to stop. A lot of her (points) were putbacks from misses, so she had a lot of rebounds as well. They have I think six seniors and then add (Elmore) in there … that makes a good team.”

Elmore started early with nine of H-L’s 16 points in the first quarter and added to it with 12 in the second. The Chieftains were leading 34-9 at one point in the first half and eventually took a 38-12 lead into the half.

“It took a while,” Gase said of Elmore getting in sync with H-L’s veteran team. “You could say right now that we are jelling really well. She loves playing the game and she’s just a good ball player.”

Backing Elmore was Jacque Burns with 10 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Emily Pace added nine points and seven boards and Olivia Zender ended with eight points and three steals.

H-L still has North Baltimore left Thursday before the matchup with the Senecas in the tournament.

“It will be a challenge because (Herron) is a good coach and he’ll make some adjustments,” Gase said. “And we’ll make some adjustments. The tempo of the game isn’t going to change.”

Shelby Hemminger led Calvert (4-16) with seven points, three rebounds and four steals, while Sydney Johnson hit a pair of triples for six points.

Herron said the Senecas might have a makeup game before the rematch, but regardless, the Senecas have some work to do. But one thing is certain, Calvert will show up and play with heart and effort.

“The big thing especially in the second half was that they didn’t quit. It showed their character,” Herron said. “No matter what the score was, they didn’t quit. They try to have fun and don’t quit, so I’m proud of them for that.”