by Tim Miller
The Cedarville Lady Jackets (1-1) nearly pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history on Saturday afternoon and gave No. 1 Ashland all it could handle. The Eagles avenged Cedarville’s upset bid 79-78 in the final game of the Midwest Region Crossover.
Senior forward Taylor Buckley broke out, notching a career mark in points with 20 points on 8-10 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds, seven of which came from the offensive glass. Redshirt junior Regina Hochstetler contributed a team-leading 22 points and shot 6-11 from behind the arc. Hochstetler is averaging 24.5 points per game after two games.
Head coach Kari Hoffman said her team played as hard as she could’ve asked for and that the atmosphere was incredible.
“What a really fun game to be a part of,” Hoffman said. “Obviously we’re disappointed with the loss. I’m so proud of my team, I can’t say enough about them.”
The game started with heightened urgency from each side and an up-tempo pace. Cedarville owned a lead for most of the first five minutes of the game, and with 5:31 left, Ashland called its first timeout of the game with a 9-9 deadlock.
Ashland’s full-court press staggered the Lady Jackets in the two minutes after the timeout, allowing the Eagles to take a 17-9 lead.
Multiple turnovers by Ashland and five straight points from Hochstetler allowed Cedarville to inch right back late in the quarter. A free throw from senior guard Kaitlyn Holm cut the lead to 17-15 with 1:13 left.
The Eagles’ pesky defense gave them extra cushion to close out the quarter, taking a 21-16 lead into the second. Hochstetler yet again led all scorers in the frame, notching eight points.
Cedarville opened the second with seven straight points to pry the lead back. Buckley’s tenacious offensive rebounding led to a converted layup while being fouled, and the senior gave the Lady Jackets a 23-21 lead with 7:54 left.
The Lady Jackets let their lead slip in the middle of the quarter, and multiple defensive fouls prompted Hoffman to call a timeout with 4:11 remaining. The Eagles held a 31-27 advantage.
Ashland used a late run to extend its lead, scoring seven unanswered to take a 43-36 lead. The Eagles took a 43-37 advantage into the locker room for the half.
Buckley’s nine points in the half and eight rebounds (five of which were offensive) kept the Lady Jackets in the game.
Sharpshooting junior guard Baylee Bennett drew her third foul on the first defensive possession of the half, which cut her minutes down significantly in the quarter.
Ashland continued to stifle using its full-court press, and freshman Ashlyn Huffman was left to take the lion’s share of the punishment. Ashland used this to its advantage and leaped to a 53-43 lead with 6:45 left in the quarter.
The Lady Jackets switched to a 2-3 zone later in the quarter which gave Cedarville the life it needed to jump back in the game. The Lady Jackets forced multiple turnovers and clawed back to cut the deficit by three. With 5:07 left, Ashland led 53-50 and called a timeout.
Cedarville used a triple from Holm and another offensive rebound turned lay in by Buckley to end the quarter down three. Ashland led 59-56, but Cedarville closed a quarter with momentum for the first time in the game.
Even though Buckley attempted just five 3-pointers last season, she tied the game with a rare attempted shot from behind the arc with 9:29 left. The shot tied the game at 59.
The Eagles’ press yet again allowed them to pull away from Cedarville. Multiple turnovers led to Ashland points, and with 6:49 left, Ashland led 66-59.
A Holm steal led to two points for Cedarville after Watterworth banked in a layup, making the score 69-66 with 4:30 left.
Hochstetler set Callan on fire with a triple to tie the game at 72 with 3:05 left. The Lady Jackets forced a jump ball on the ensuing possession to get the ball back.
Another 3-pointer splashed from Hochstetler with 28 seconds left gave Cedarville the lead, 78-77. The Lady Jackets looked to have the game handled at that point, as the Callan Athletic Center erupted after the shot.
With 13 seconds left, three players collided on the sideline when Cedarville had the ball. After the officials reviewed the play, Ashland was awarded the ball.
“We were right there,” Hoffman said of the missed opportunity. “We were one jump ball away from winning the thing.”
Ashland missed two shots with under seven seconds left, but the Eagles got a third shot up just before the buzzer. The floater was netted by Ashland as the buzzer sounded, giving Ashland the win.
“Overall, I can’t say enough great things about the way my players went out and played tonight,” Hoffman said. “It was something special.”
Cedarville will travel to Central State on Thursday for a bout of two Greene County teams. The Lady Jackets edged Central State last season 77-71.
Tim Miller is a sophomore marketing major and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys having a baby face, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffee and striving to be the optimal combination of Dwight Schrute and Ron Swanson.