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Seneca East nipped by Western Reserve

SHELBY — Western Reserve executed big plays at both ends of the floor late, and ended Seneca East’s postseason run by the slimmest of margins.

Cora Wyers’ layup with 51 seconds left broke a 41-all tie, and after a stop, McKenna Woodruff split a pair of free throws with 26 seconds left.

Trailing 44-41, Seneca East got the ball in the hands of its point guard, Marina Adachi. Facing tough Rider defense and with the clock down to about five seconds, the junior stepped back and launched a deep 3 from the left wing.

It hit off the back of the rim. The Tigers’ Bonnie Bivens claimed the rebound, but all she had time to do was put the ball back up for two points just before the buzzer sounded.

Western Reserve won, 44-43, and advanced to Saturday afternoon’s district final in Shelby. It will face top-seeded Margaretta, which downed Crestview 61-42 in the second game here.

It was retribution for Western Reserve after having its season ended a year ago by the Tigers in the district round.

Seneca East coach Don Vogt said the Riders did a good job against Adachi on the final play.

“She was definitely well-defended,” Vogt said. “We ran her off a couple screens. They managed to fight through them. It is what it is.”

Western Reserve assistant coach Brett Robson, who is filling in as the team’s head coach, said the Riders made an adjustment during a timeout just before the final possession.

“We wanted to make sure we were in the face of Adachi and (Jess) Bowerman, both,” he said. “Those are two outstanding scorers, outstanding ballplayers. We figured one of those two was gonna get that last look, and we were fortunate we got up on it and stopped it.”

Seneca East ended its season at 18-6. The Riders improved to 20-3.

Wyers finished with a team-high 16 points, and scored four baskets in the fourth quarter. Andrea Robson added 10 points.

Coach Robson said McKenna Woodruff also came up big.

Woodruff finished with five points, but hit a big free throw in the final minute.

“I’m proud of every one of them, but McKenna Woodruff, right there at the end … she’s only a sophomore, but she played like a senior today.”

It was an intense game throughout. The Riders’ biggest lead was five points, and that came in the first quarter. SE never led by more than three.

The Tigers trailed 14-11 after one, and 21-20 at the break. The game was tied at 32 after three. Seneca East had a 41-39 lead after a jumper by Bonnie Bivens with 2:09 left, but then was held scoreless until Bivens’ basket at the buzzer.

Seneca East also turned the ball over four times in the fourth, and was just 4 of 9 from the free throw line in the loss.

“When you’re in tight games like that, you have to execute the little things,” Vogt said. “Does the game boil down to all that? Maybe, maybe not. We could have had a few more defensive stops in the second quarter, first quarter, whatever.”

Bowerman and Bivens led the Tigers’ offense with 13 points each. Adachi had 11 points and five steals, and Alexis Hicks had a team-best eight rebounds to go with four points.

“I can’t tell you how proud I am of our kids,” Vogt said. “From where we started, to today, you would never recognize us. You wouldn’t believe it’s the same group of kids.”

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