ADAMS TOWNSHIP — In the proverbial tale of two halves, No. 3 Bellbrook jumped out to a commanding lead, then withstood a furious Clinton-Maddie rally to post a nail-biting 33-31 victory on Monday night.
Up 29-10 with just over 3 minutes to go in the third quarter, it appeared as if state-ranked Bellbrook could put it on cruise control.
Miquela Santoro and her CM teammates had other ideas.
Santoro went on a scoring frenzy, pouring in 15 points in an 8-plus minute span to spearhead a 21-2 Lady Falcon run. A Santoro bucket plus a foul knotted the score at 31 with 2:30 left, but she was unable to complete the and-1 which would have given CM its first lead of the game.
“We just showed some tenacity, but we have to understand that we can’t just do it for a half,” Clinton-Massie head coach Carlos Roberts said about his team’s second half rally. “We have to do it for two halves.”
Cassidy Hofacker hit two free throws with under 2 minutes to play and Bellbrook then played keep-away. The visitors passed the ball around crisply, running off more than a minute of game clock before CM could foul.
However, the Lady Golden Eagles missed two front ends if 1-and-1s at the charity stripe to keep CM alive. With 2.4 seconds left, Clinton-Massie inbounded under the bucket and appeared to have space for a shot, but the pass was mishandled and batted away.
Gabby Ozoude put on a dominating first half performance for the visitors as the 6-2 senior made her first 8 shots to propel Bellbrook to a 23-6 halftime lead.
While Ozoude couldn’t miss, the basket had a lid on it on the opposite end of the gym. Savannah Myers made the lone CM basket in the opening half and accounted for 4 of the home team’s 6 points. The Lady Falcons shot a dismal 1-of-17 from the field in the first two quarters and struggled just as bad at the foul line, hitting on only 4-of-13.
“That girl [Ozoude] is a beast,” Roberts complimented. “She went to work. She’s intimidating. My girls were a little intimidated at first, but we settled down and were able to do things a little different on her in the second half.”
To Roberts’ point, Ozoude made only one basket after halftime, finishing with 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting. Hofacker finished with 10 points for Bellbrook.
As cold as CM was in the first half, the same could be said for the Lady Golden Eagles after the break. Bellbrook was able to hold on for the win despite making only 3 baskets in the second half and hitting on 2-of-20 from 3-point land in the game.
“There is a lot to build off for us,” Roberts said. “Our effort was phenomenal. Bellbrook is a great team and we were right there. The only downfall was our free throws.”
For the game, Clinton-Massie made only 5-of-16 from the charity stripe.
Offensively, Santoro finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals, with almost all of her damage coming in the final 11 minutes of the game. Myers had a solid game in the post for CM with 8 points and 7 boards.
Reach Blake Haley via email [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @BeeLakeH