By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
MANSFIELD — New Hope saw it’s shot an OCSAA championship fade as Mansfield Christian pulled away from the Lady Statesmen in the third quarter on the way to a 41-35 final.
“Mansfield is such a tested team, and I think we are also, but they’re a team that just perseveres in what they do,” New Hope coach Brian McCallister said. “We talked about how they were going to pressure us and even if we beat it early, they were going to keep pressuring us. They just kept keeping on keeping on what they do.”
The Statesmen (9-7) were up 11-2 midway through the first quarter and had an 11-7 lead at the end of the period. By halftime of the Ohio Christian School Athletic Association championship game, the Flames had taken a 20-17 lead.
“Early on we didn’t have some shots fall. When we went down a little bit, you start pressing yourself a little bit and taking some shots you shouldn’t, and it didn’t work out,” McCallister said.
A slow starting third quarter saw Maren McCallister score the first two buckets of the half, though the second didn’t come until 4:31 was on the clock. That second shot gave New Hope a 21-20 advantage, but Mansfield scored the final eight points of the quarter.
The Statesmen cut the difference to 28-24 early in the fourth off a three from Rebecca Highfield but that was as close as they could get.
Mansfield scored 11 of the next 14 points to take its biggest lead of the game at 39-27 with 2:12 on the clock.
Sophomore Maren McCallister led the New Hope with 19 points and senior Lauren Smith chipped in eight.
The Flames were able to do some damage on the boards where they outrebounded the Statesmen 39-31, with 15 of those being on the offensive glass.
Elle Schmitz led Mansfield with eight rebounds while Anna Sparks and Kyleah Jones each had seven. Jones was Mansfield’s top scorer with 15 points.
Eden Leist led New Hope with eight rebounds and Smith had seven.
Smith and Rebecca Highfield were the only seniors on a squad that had four sophomores and two freshmen.
“I told them tonight that we can’t use that excuse any more that we’re young,” Brian McCallister said. “Last year we had eight varsity players in our program and four of them were freshmen. This year we got up to where we had nine and still had four sophomores and two freshmen. So that group of sophomores was very successful in middle school and had to come up and play a tough schedule. We’re scheduling the Logan Elms, we played Bloom-Carroll and went up and played Loudonville who was the No. 1 seed in the Northeast.
“Moving forward, we’re not young anymore.”
That Loudonville game (a 90-32 loss) was a turning point in the season for the Statesmen as they went 7-2 after that game.
While disappointed Saturday’s game didn’t turn out in their favor, McCallister said that after going through several COVID quarantines, “we were happy to be here after being shut down four times. This year, you can’t take anything for granted.”
Mansfield Christian School 41, New Hope Christian Academy 35
Mansfield Christian — Aubryn Maiyer 1-0-2, Anna Sparks 0-6-6, Elle Schmitz 1-4-6, Alexis Rippel 4-0-8, Lillie Berryman 2-0-4, Kyleah Jones 6-3-15. Total — 14-40 13-24 41.
New Hope Christian Academy — Jenna Tripp 1-0-3, Maren McCallister 7-5-19, Anna Mitchell 1-0-2, Lauren Smith 3-2-8, Rebecca Highfield 1-0-3. Three-point goals — Tripp, Highfield. Total — 13-47 7-11 35.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Mansfield Christian 7 13 8 13 41
New Hope CA 11 6 4 14 35