The New Richmond Lady Lions needed an 11-point fourth quarter comeback to best their Southern Buckeye Conference rivals, Amelia, 37-36 on Thursday, Dec. 8.
In a game that took on two very different looks, both teams held obvious advantages at times, but it was New Richmond’s domination in the first and fourth quarters that proved to be enough to continue the Lions’ undefeated season.
New Richmond’s Josie Buckingham, a 6-foot-5 sophomore center, was the main cog in the changing faces of the game. Buckingham held an eight-inch height advantage over the Lady Barons’ forwards, Danielle Lang and Cassidy Bailey. However, Buckingham struggled shooting from the field in the first quarter missing shots she usually makes around the rim.
“She gets frustrated,” New Richmond coach Brian Hatfield said.
The Lady Barons did well to box Buckingham out, forcing her to commit over-the-back fouls in the early going. Buckingham was whistled for her second foul as time ticked down in the second quarter with the Lions leading. After one, New Richmond led 10-3.
In the second quarter, the game flow switched to Amelia’s favor as Buckingham picked up her third foul with 5:46 remaining in the half.
“We become a different team (without Buckingham) defensively,” Hatfield said. “Typically we’re a zone team when Josie’s in the game, but we play man-to-man when she’s out.”
As Buckingham watched from the bench, Amelia took advantage of her absence, driving to the basket with no one there to alter their shots. The Lady Barons went on an 11-1 run to end the half leading 19-15, led primarily by Bailey’s eight first-half points.
The Lady Lions were kept in the game by senior guard Sarah Shoemaker’s shooting.
“She’s a senior leader and I can depend on her to do whatever I need her to do out on the floor,” Hatfield said. “We turn into a team that has to spread it out [without Buckingham] and have guards attack and hit some shots from the outside.”
Still hesitant to enter Buckingham into the game to start the second half, the Lions gave up five quick points to Amelia to start the third quarter, increasing their deficit to nine points at 24-15. Coach Hatfield put Buckingham into the game shortly thereafter only to see her pick up her fourth foul with 4:37 to go in the third quarter.
Again, Amelia saw blood in the water, increasing their lead to 10 points less than a minute after Buckingham picked up her fourth foul. Amelia’s trio of Lang, Madison Terry and Kymmy Simon led the charge with the home crowd urging them to increase the lead. The Lady Barons finished the third quarter with a 31-23 advantage, but knew that they would have to deal with Buckingham in the fourth.
Even with the home crowd fired up, there was still a feeling that New Richmond wasn’t out of the game. Lang hit a three-pointer for Amelia to open the fourth, giving the Lady Baron’s their largest lead of 11 points with seven minutes left in the game. Buckingham returned to the game, playing a little more conservatively that usual, but making her presence known.
With the big man back in the game, Amelia wasn’t as aggressive going towards the rim, something that was also hampered by New Richmond’s perimeter trapping defense.
“We’re all about putting pressure people and trying to cause turnovers,” Hatfield said. “When we really need to get the ball, we have kids like Sarah Shoemaker, Mikaela Rupp and Courtney Grogan who really know how to get after it and cause turnovers.”
The mixture of New Richmond’s aggressive defense and Amelia’s willingness to hold onto the ball until they were able to get off a good shot drained the clock in the final period.
On the other end of the floor, Buckingham became the focal point of Amelia’s defense, allowing her teammates easier scoring opportunities as the Lady Barons keyed in on her.
Buckingham did her part to bring the Lions back as well, scoring 10 points in the second half. The Lions were able to chip away at the Amelia lead with their defensive intensity and offensive prowess to cut the Lady Barons’ lead to one with 40 seconds remaining after back-to-back Buckingham layups.
The Lady Lions defense forced a quick shot from Amelia and Mikaela Rupp chased down a long rebound along the baseline. Falling out of bounds with 31 seconds remaining, Rupp called a timeout to keep the possession for the Lady Lions.
Out of the timeout, New Richmond went to – who else – Josie Buckingham who caught an entry pass from the wing, faced the basket and scored over her smaller Amelia defender with 20 seconds remaining.
Amelia broke the Lions’ pressure with a pass to Hannah Lehn. Lehn drove down the baseline, but was cut off and had the ball stolen by Tina Lawrence, forcing the Lady Barons to foul with 4.7 seconds left.
Unfortunately for Amelia, Lehn’s foul on Lawrence was only the fourth team foul in the half, not forcing a one-and-one free throw. The Lady Lions in-bounded the ball and were fouled again, this time with 2.7 seconds left, but Amelia still had two fouls to give before New Richmond would shot a one-and-one.
One more in-bounds pass and the Lady Lions were able to escape with a one-point win over Amelia, 37-36.
New Richmond improved to 4-0 on the season and remained atop the SBC-American Division. The Lady Lions were back in action on Tuesday, Dec. 12 as they hosted Norwood.
Amelia falls to 1-2 on the season. The Lady Barons are off until Dec. 15 when they travel to play Clermont Northeastern.
New Richmond(4-0) – Workman 1 1 3, Shoemaker 4 1 11, Rupp 2 0 4, Grogan 2 0 5, Buckingham 7 0 14. Totals: 16 2 37.
Amelia (1-2) – Lehn 1 0 2, Terry 2 0 5, Lang 4 0 9, Simon 3 4 10, Bailey 4 1 10. Totals: 14 5 36
Halftime score: Amelia 19-15. 3-pointers: N 3 (Shoemaker 2, Grogan); A 3 (Terry, Lang, Bailey).