ARCHBOLD – The Division IV District Final held on March 4th, at Archbold High School matched the #1 seed Stryker Panthers and the 4th seed Hicksville Lady Aces. The Lady Panthers rolled into the game on an 8 game winning streak, and stood at 21-3 overall. The Aces entered the contest as somewhat of a surprise given the fact they had lost their scoring, as well as team leader, Chelsey Taylor to an ACL injury a few games prior to the start of the tourney. However, Hicksville has been able to overcome the loss thus far winning five of six games since the injury to Taylor.
The two teams were meeting for the second time on the season. The first matchup occurred early in the season on December 19th. In that game the Lady Panthers won by a close 50-45 decision.
Both teams struggled to get overcome the jitters as the contest started. It wasn’t until 6:30 was left on the clock when Hailey Doehrmann connected for Stryker from the left wing for two. Katelyn Bergman got Hicksville on the board when she collected an offensive rebound as was fouled by Kaitlyn Wonders on the put back attempt. The sophomore made the second of the two tries.
Stryker committed their second turnover of the quarter, this time leading to a basket by Addison Bergman as the 6’1” post player scored after a nice lob feed from Natalie Briskey putting the Lady Aces on top 3-2. Hicksville continued to roll taking an 8-2 advantage until Freshman Courtney Stewart cashed a three for Stryker with 1:05 left to play in the period.
Stewart, who had seen action for just a few seconds in the final moments of the District Semi-final against Antwerp, and didn’t play at all in the Sectional Final, was pressed into action. Her entrance was due to extreme foul trouble by several Lady Panthers. In fact, Brittany Haines, Emma Grime, and Kaitlyn Wonders all had collected two fouls earlier in the period.
Harlee Shuman hit a driving basket with 8 seconds left in the opening quarter providing Hicksville with a 10-5 lead.
Despite turning the ball over their first two possessions of the second stanza, the Lady Aces were able to add three more points, courtesy of Stryker’s three miscues to begin the period. Addison Bergman accounted for all three of the points for Hicksville.
Hailey Doehrmann ended the drought for Stryker with a full court drive to the rim. Bergman continued to have the hot hand for the Lady Aces dropped in two more in the paint keeping Hicksville in front 15-7.
Madi Myers had luck on her side as she banked in a three from the right wing. Shuman countered with a free throw after being fouled by Doehrmann with 3:00 left in the quarter. Doehrmann joined the Stryker “Two Foul Crew” picking up her’s on an offensive foul with 1:35 left before intermission. The score remained 16-10 until Addison Bergman grabbed an offensive rebound off of her own miss.
Now in the Double Bonus, Briskey made both for Hicksville after being fouled by Stewart, while Katelynn Berenyi made her first when hacked by Myers. Stewart picked up her 5th point of the night when she converted to free throws after being fouled by Katelyn Bergman following a drive to the basket with 7.2 seconds left.
Stryker put on pressure after the free throws, and focused on Addison Bergman when she got the ball on her end at the left elbow. However, that left sister Katelyn wide open and she dropped in a layup of the pass from her big sis just as time expired to put the Lady Aces ahead 23-12 at halftime.
If the foul situation wasn’t a hard enough pill to swallow for Stryker, the Hicksville size and active 2-3 zone was causing difficulty as well.
The Lady Panthers made just 4-18 shots for 22%, and had committed 10 turnovers. They were also getting manhandled on the boards as Hicksville had a 15-6 advantage, including 4 offensive rebounds to zero for Stryker. To make matters worse, Taylor Haines, the Lady Panthers leading scorer at 14 points per game, was held scoreless thus far.
Addison Bergman picked up where she left off scoring on the left block to open the 2nd half. Haines finally got a good look at the basket and knocked down a triple from the right wing for Stryker. Stewart picked up her second foul to send Berenyi back to the line where she made good on the first try. Briskey found a clear path to the hole to put Hicksville up by 13 points, 28-15.
Doehrmann collected an offensive board for the Lady Panthers, and enticed Addison Bergman into a foul, her third of the game, to send her to the bench with 3:47 still left in the third period. Doehrmann made good on both tries, but Ashley Peter with a nice shot fake and drop step bucket from the left side of the basket
Another drive by Doehrmann resulted in another two from the charity stripe. The freebies were the start of a 10-0 run that brought Stryker to within 3 points. Haines got two on a drive, then buried two consecutive triples, both from the left wing to send the Stryker crowd into an absolute frenzy as the scoreboard read 30-27 as the buzzer sounded to end the third quarter.
For the period the Lady Panthers outscored Hicksville 15-7. However, they were still facing a serious disadvantage in terms of fouls as Brittney Haines had four fouls, while several others had either three or two.
Stryker had an unforced turnover to start the quarter via an over and back call. This miscue led to a basket by Addison Bergman, but Doehrmann answered for the Lady Panthers. Bergman converted again off a lob to make it 34-29 with 6:35 left.
Taylor Haines picked up her second foul on an offensive clear out to give the ball back to Hicksville. That was just the start of more back news for Stryker as on the next two possessions Doehrmann picked up her fourth foul after collecting an offensive rebound forcing her to the bench. On the ensuing Lady Aces possession, Taylor Haines was whistled for her third foul, however she remained in the game.
Shuman broke free with 5:13 left for a fast break lay in to extend the gap to 36-29. Brittney Haines checked back with her four fouls. She was fouled by Briskey and sank a pair.
Hicksville got careless and turned the ball back over to Stryker on the next two possessions. Yet another turnover by the Lady Aces sent Brittney Haines back to the foul line and converted both throws to get the Lady Panthers back to within one possession, 36-33 with 3:37 left.
The spark Haines provided was abruptly distinguished when she exited the game after committing her fifth foul on Berenyi with 3:08 on the clock. Doehrmann came back into the game at this point for Haines. Berenyi missed the front end of the one and one. However, Peter claimed an offensive rebound and converted it into two points for Hicksville. The score prompted Stryker Coach Steve Brown to request a timeout with 2:53 left.
Two free throws by Briskey, after being fouled by Myers, extended the lead to 40-33. Addison Bergman scored again inside, but Doehrmann answered from the right block and Stryker called another timeout with 1:24 left and the Lady Panthers still down seven, 42-35.
Stryker went to full attack mode on defense following the stoppage in play. Addison Bergman was fouled, and missed a pair. However, Stryker was unable to cut into the lead. Taylor Haines picked up her fourth foul to send Briskey to the stripe. She made the second try only to make it 43-35 with just over 1 minute left.
Another empty trip by the Lady Panthers left Taylor Haines no alternative but to foul Berenyi when she couldn’t come up with a steal. The senior, and BBC Player of the Year exited with 45 seconds left on the clock, possibly for the final time in her high school career.
Hicksville continued to leave a glimmer of hope for Stryker as Berenyi missed the mark on both foul shots. Doehrmann collected the board and went strong to the basket drawing a foul on Berenyi. She made both shots, but only 38 seconds remained and Stryker was still down by six, 43-37.
Wonders hacked Addison Bergman with 37.2 left, and once again, she missed both. Stewart was fouled by Shuman and she calmly sank both making it a four point game, but the clock was running out on Stryker as just 14.4 seconds remained.
Wonders made a repeat on Bergman, but this time the junior made the first to extend the lead to five. She missed the second, and Stryker rushed the ball up the floor but the attempt missed the mark and the clock ran out on the Lady Panthers not only for the game, but the season.
Clearly foul trouble threw as serious curve ball to the Stryker game plan, forcing them into unusual and unexpected substitutions. However, the Hicksville defense can be credited as well. Stryker was able to connect on just 10-47 shot attempts for a chilly 21%. On the other hand, Hicksville was able to use their size inside to shoot a very impressive 16-30 for 53%.
The free throw line was just the opposite however. The Lady Panthers made good on 14-17 charity tosses for an outstanding 82%. Hicksville made 28 trips to the foul line, but converted just 11 for 39%. The Aces will need to improve in that regard, as well as clean up the miscues as they committed 25 turnovers, with Stryker having 19.
Hicksville was led in scoring by Addison Bergman with a game high 18 points, and collected close to that many rebounds. Natalie Briskey and Katelynn Berenyi added 7 points each.
Hailey Doehrmann continued her tournament success with 14 points. In her final game, Taylor Haines overcame a first half shutout to add 11 points before fouling out. The incredibly unexpected high point of the night for Stryker was the play of Courtney Stewart. The freshman handled herself like a seasoned veteran hitting a three, then going a perfect 4-4 from the foul line for 7 points. Quite an accomplishment for a player who had seen very limited varsity minutes up to this contest. Brittney Haines, who spent most of the night in foul difficulty, went 4-4 from the line for 4 points. Madi Myers closed out the Lady Panther scoring with a trifecta.
Although the final outcome wasn’t what the Lady Panthers expected, they have nothing to hang their heads about. The season was highlighted by a BBC Co-championship with Pettisville, a Sectional Title, District Runner-up, a 21-4 record, and also included Coach Steve Brown collecting his 300th win.
With the defeat, Stryker has to say goodbye to three seniors, Taylor Haines, Kaitlyn Wonders, and Paige Speelman. Although the trio leave big shoes to fill, the Lady Panthers return three starters in juniors Hailey Doehrmann and Madi Myers, and sophomore Emma Grime.
Fellow sophomore Brittney Haines played a huge role and had starter minutes each night. Other reserves, McKenna Louys, who was injured, as well as Anna Stuckey and Courtney Stewart will play major roles next season. As is the case each year, Coach Brown and his staff will get the most out of each girl. This will undoubtedly led to another year of success and memories for the Stryker community, and may very well lead to similar, if not greater, results than this season.
SCORING BY QUARTER:
Hicksville – 12 9 14 8 – 43
Pettisville – 8 8 7 16 – 39
Kent Hutchison may be reached at email@example.com