St. Paul finished its regular season on a winning note Thursday night, defeating Western Reserve on Senior Night, 42-30 in Firelands Conference girls’ basketball action at the convocation center.
It was the final home game for St. Paul’s Bella Stoll, Elise Nickoli, Lydia Ott, Kristen Moore and Emily Chandler.
The Lady Flyers (14-7 overall, 10-4) open sectional play at Tiffin Columbian at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Seneca East.
Western Reserve (1-18, 1-13) has a final regular-season game left at Wellington Saturday night.
The Lady ’Riders limited the host team to just four points and nine shots in the first quarter.
Fortunately, St. Paul’s defense was just as tenacious, limiting Western to five points on eight shots.
“That’s our game,” first-year Lady ’Riders coach Laura Pierson said. “That has to be our game as we just do not have the offensive fire-power. They do play hard, however. We limit teams to 45 points or less most games. That statistic gives us half a chance.”
The shooting of Stoll and Nickoli, along with the work of Ashley Painley off the bench in the second period, allowed Vicky Mahl’s team to open a bit of daylight by halftime, 17-10.
The third period was a near draw and the shooting numbers proved that as both clubs made four of nine shots from the field.
The Lady Flyers won the quarter 10-9, but it still had only an eight-point lead.
St. Paul then picked and chose their shots in the final quarter.
Stoll’s 10-footer opened a 12-point lead. Contributions in the form of two field goals each were from Moore and Lauren Lukasko. That was huge to keep the margin around double figures.
Tara Burke closed the Western Reserve scoring with back-to-back three-point shots.
Stoll led the Lady Flyers with 12, Nickoli had eight and Ott and Lukasko six each.
St. Paul showed 16-of-38 numbers from the floor and converted 10-of-12 foul shots.
The Lady Flyers had 20 turnovers and 22 rebounds.
Elyse Roth pulled down five boards.
“My girls were operating on emotion more than anything,” Mahl said. “I do know that we continue to get solid contributions off the bench. That was the hope when the season started and it has come into fruition.
“The game played out as a typical rivalry game between Route 20 opponents, be it Western Reserve or Monroeville,’’ she added. “It was one that saw us hang tough in the first half and then make some adjustments in the second half that got us some better looks.”
Jacqui Mullins led Western Reserve in scoring with 10 points.
The team was 11-of-34 from the field, including 2-of-4 from above the arc.
The Lady ’Riders made 6-of-10 shots from the foul line.
Those numbers went with 25 turnovers and 16 rebounds.
Mia Ward had five boards.
Pierson recognizes her team doesn’t have the shooters to play with most teams.
“Tara Burke is our best but her ball-handling duties have not given her the time to set and get off decent shots,” Pierson said. “Finding shooters will be my No. 1 goal in the off-season because I have the defenders, girls who will run through a brick wall in an effort to win that battle.”
Tim Watson’s St. Paul reserve team finished the campaign at 13-8 (9-5 in the FC) after claiming a 25-20 win. Emily Baker had eight points and Maddie Carabin six for the winners.
Marianne Wannemaker’s Lady Riders (9-10, 7-7) received eight points from Ashley Noble.
Seneca East features first-team Division IV District 6 choice Seina Adachi, 19-point per game scorer.
“We’ll have to find a way to slow her down,’’ Mahl said. “Otherwise, we match up pretty well with them,” she said.