JAY LAPRETE / AP Enlarge
The first half of yesterday's Division IV girls basketball state championship between Holgate and Maria Stein Marion Local had all the grace of a junior high dance.
Marion Local (22-6) found its rhythm after intermission, however, winning its first state title with a 46-28 victory.
Holgate (21-6) - whose point total was the lowest in Division IV state tournament history - was left with the runner-up spot again, its second time in three years. The Tigers also lost in the 1979 state final.
Marion Local held the old record of 30 points in a loss to Berlin Hiland in 2000.
“We were never able to get a direct line to the basket,” Holgate coach Bruce Schlosser said. “Defensively, [Marion Local] played extremely well.”
Vanessa Rothman scored 10 points, well below her season average of 20.8 and the lowest tally for the standout 5-1 senior guard since her sophomore year. Rothman, who was shadowed the entire game by a rotation of Marion Local guards, went 3-for-16 from the field.
Rothman had started the team's last 103 games, reaching double figures in points in 100 of them.
“Their guards pressured me a lot,” Rothman said. “I didn't get too many good looks.”
Nor did Holgate in general. The Tigers shot 26 percent as a team in the face of Marion Local's swarming, shifting defense. Flyers coach Treva Fortkamp went to a 1-2-2 pressing defense in the second half.
“It wasn't pretty, but we hung in there - especially defensively,” Fortkamp said. “It took us a while to get into the flow of the game, but once we did, we were able to dominate.”
Maria Moeller, who shared defensive duties on Rothman with junior Rachel Thobe, said the game plan was to stop the Tigers' leading scorer before she could get started.
“Rothman's very quick, so you had to back off at first to defend that great first step,” Moeller said.
Said Fortkamp: “We told our girls to follow [Rothman's] belly button. She's the kind of player that can cause you to get into foul trouble, so we had to make some adjustments. It was a team effort.”
Marion Local was equally icy out of the gate, going 6-of-21 from the field (28 percent) in the first half.
The Flyers led 16-14 at halftime and 27-22 at the end of the third period, but caught fire in the final eight minutes. Sparked by Moeller, Marion Local opened the fourth on an 8-2 run to put the game out of reach. The Flyers shot 54 percent in the second half.
Moeller, a freshman, finished with a game-high 15 points. But it was her three steals - all of which were converted into easy transition buckets - that set the tone for the second half.
“We had a couple of turn-overs there where we didn't get into the right sets, but I think it was such a physical, aggressive game that we were also a little tired in the end,” Schlosser said.
“When you get into coaching, you wish for a group like this,” Schlosser said. “You never count on it, but you hope for it.”
Senior Serena Urdiales added 10 points and six rebounds. Senior Jamie Thomas was the only other Holgate player to score, tallying eight points and grabbing six boards.
“It's nice to know we played all the games possible this season,” Urdiales said. “We're disappointed, but it's good to be in this uniform right now.”