Tigers extinguish the Flames 67-15
SHELBY — Once a train gets rolling, it sure is hard to stop.
Whether you want to refer Seneca East as the train, or specifically star player Jessica Bowerman, the top-seeded Tigers had it going on Saturday.
Makenna Depinet topped four Seneca East players with 15 points as the Tigers rolled to a convincing 67-15 win over Mansfield Christian in a Division IV sectional final at Shelby High School.
“I think a good start is important because you do not want any team to come out and play with you and get confidence,” SE coach Don Vogt said. “I think we did a nice job of playing our game and putting our foot down.”
With the win, Seneca East improves to 20-3 and faces fourth-seeded Norwalk St. Paul (20-3) in a 6:15 p.m. district semifinal Thursday at Willard High.
“In a game like this, we want to make sure that we continue to play at our level and not necessarily worry about what they are doing,” Vogt said. “We just have to come prepared and play our game.”
Bowerman, after a scoreless first quarter, finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds, using her defensive process and passionate play to her advantage against the Flames (11-10).
“We have tried, and I think done a pretty good job throughout the season of getting the rest of the girls playing together,” Vogt said. “At any given time, they can pick up the slack. I think that is important. You can not build a team around one player. They are all important.”
Depinet made two free throws to open the scoring before buckets by Amelia Boes and Alexis Hicks gave the Tigers a quick 6-0 lead.
Elle Schmitz hit a jumper for Mansfield Christian, but Depinet, Hicks, and Bailey Hamilton scored in succession for a 12-2 lead.
Hicks added consecutive buckets to push the margin out to 16-2.
“I think a good start is helpful and we talked about that before the game,” Vogt said. “I thought we were maybe a little nervous for like two minutes. Things started falling for us and it flowed from there.”
The Tigers led 18-4 after eight minutes and extended the lead when Brooke Bordner opened the second quarter with a three-point play. Raelyn Todd hit a jumper for Mansfield Christian, but Seneca East countered with tallies from Bowerman, Bordner, Hicks and Amelia Boes.
The Tigers often threw a deep outlet pass off a defensive rebound, usually leading to a quick score — something Seneca East noticed it had the ability to do early on.
“That was something we saw in the first two or three minutes of the game,” Vogt said. “We went from there. Sometimes on film, it is hard to gauge that speed. That was an adjustment we made.”
Bowerman scored, Hamilton hit a 3 and Depinet’s bucket gave the Tigers a 36-8 lead at halftime. Seneca East also added the first 12 points of the second half for a running clock scenario. Bowerman had two triples in the run.
The Tigers pushed the lead to 53-14 after three quarters then held the Flames without a field goal in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Hannah Rowe connected on two 3s for the Tigers in the final four minutes. Mansfield Christian did not attempt a free throw until midway through the fourth quarter.
Bordner finished with 11 points off the bench while Hicks tallied 10 points and eight rebounds. Seneca East held a 40-21 rebounding edge.
“I think it helps when our kids are a lot taller than the opponent,” Vogt said. “I do not think what we did in this game is a secret. We have done that all year. We want to take advantage of our height.”
The Tigers will face a St. Paul team that suffered just three losses — two to undefeated Firelands Conference league champion Ashland Crestview and one non-league game to Perkins.