Fast starts lift Panthers over Senecas 50-41 in non-league tilt

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE Calvert's Emma White snags the ball against McComb in Tiffin Monday. Calvert’s Maddy Schumacher (left) looks on.

McComb feasted on slow-starting Calvert Monday night in a 50-41 non-league win for the Panthers.

According to first-year Senecas coach Mitch Gardner, slow starts have been a problem for Calvert and it was on display Monday.

The Panthers (8-3) led 11-4 after one quarter and after Calvert (4-6) battled back to gain some momentum into the half, McComb posted an 18-8 third quarter to essentially ice the game before the fourth.

“It’s something since really Day 1 (starting slow). I think we might as well just start down 10-0 before we start playing. We just come out flat,” Gardner said. “It’s something we’ve talked about a lot this season and even in our wins like New Riegel we had to fight back. It’s much more comfortable to not start down 10-0 or 11-0, but it’s something we’ve been doing a lot of games in a row now.

“I did tell them regardless of the starts, we have to fight back and I thought we did that. I’m proud of the girls for finding that energy and battling back there, but if we could just translate that to the start of the game that would be great. It’s just hard to claw back when you start like that.”

With the loss of 6-foot Mallary Nielsen in the post to injury, Calvert battled McComb’s 6-foot post Alyssa Herr, but in the end, she had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“Inside-out game is something we work on a lot in practice and when we are stroking from the high post it really helps us out because it collapses the defense more and more,” McComb coach Jeremy Herr said. “Alyssa is tall and she can find the open person whether it’s outside or a dump down. We were fortunate because we got some points through that and even in some out-of-bounds plays.”

“(Herr) is a great post and credit to their coach to see the mismatch there because of the size advantage,” Gardner said. “That’s where we went to the 2-3 (zone) and shut that down a bit, which was the difference in that second quarter because we knew they were running high-low through her a lot.

“We did a good job there, but sometimes we had a 5-6 girl boxing out 6-0, so a long rebound would just go to her and she did a nice job of scoring around the rim. That did hurt us having that size in the middle there.”

McComb pushed the lead to 14-4 early in the second period before Calvert’s Shelby Hemminger put in consecutive baskets and Maddy Schumacher made a jumper to pull the Senecas within 14-10. Calvert got to within 18-14 late in the half, but McComb’s Olivia Miehls made a layup with 20 seconds left.

Malorie Schroeder drained a triple and dropped a layup to begin the second half for the Panthers. After a layup from Hemminger, McComb went on a quick 8-0 run for a 33-16 advantage with 3:08 left in the third. The quarter was capped with a buzzer-beating 3 from McComb’s Alexis Shoop.

McComb led 43-25 after a Herr bucket with 6:34 left in the fourth.

The Senecas didn’t fold, though.

Calvert went on an 11-2 run to get within 45-36 with 2:33 remaining. Schumacher had six of the 11 points, Lexie White drilled a trey and Hemminger made another layup.

But in the end, the Senecas just ran out of time even with a 19-12 fourth quarter.

“Give credit to them, they played hard and didn’t quit. (Hemminger) and (White) are really good ball players,” Herr said. “Every time they’d ball fake, we’d fall for it and they would drive and create something. The third quarter was key for us … honestly how we started both halves were really key for us.

“Because of our starts we were able to be comfortable and even at times a bit too comfortable, but that helped us keep the lead anyway.”

Schroeder had 12 points and seven rebounds for the Panthers, while Lauren Grubb ended with 10. For the Senecas, Hemminger led the way with 15 points. They also got 11 from White and nine from Schumacher off the bench.

“(Schumacher) is kind of notoriously around our program the wild one that I tell to go out there and go sick them and get us some steals,” Gardner said. “She’s been getting more minutes lately and she was one of the girls that did a really nice job against Old Fort. Tonight, I told her before the game that we are down Mallary. I told her I liked her energy and that she would play some minutes.

“She had some buckets, but I told her if she doesn’t even score any points, when she comes out with energy and causes some steals … she just does what I ask from her. She did an awesome job just as a sophomore stepping up into the varsity ranks. She will definitely be seeing some more minutes down the road. She’s pretty tough.”