The Bowsher girls basketball team got what it wanted last night as the Rebels forced visiting Central Catholic to commit 23 turnovers.
But the Rebels more than matched that total, committing almost a turnover a minute before finishing with 31. Those miscues, combined with a dominating performance by sophomore Brianna Jones, helped the Fighting Irish claim a 61-44 victory
"[Turnovers] are something you cannot have against good teams like this," Bowsher coach Karen Lake said. "We had so many unforced turnovers, it was very frustrating."
With the win, Central Catholic improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the City League. Bowsher fell to 2-3 and 1-2.
The bad news started even before the contest as the Rebels found out that freshman starter Tiffani Blackman would be lost for three to four weeks because of a stress fracture of her femur.
Bowsher already was trying to deal with limited minutes for senior Stephany Johnson, who suffered a severe muscle spasm in her right calf against Northview on Monday.
"That shifted our game plan, and it shifted our starting lineup," Lake admitted. "But no excuses: Central totally outplayed us."
The Irish took command early, using an 11-2 run midway through the first period to build a 17-12 lead at quarter's end. Central never let the Rebels cut that advantage to less than six points the rest of the way, thanks in part to an offense that created a number of scoring opportunities and shot 47.6 percent from the floor.
"We really changed over to a pick-and-roll offense. We took a lot of stuff that Bowling Green State University does," Central Catholic coach Steve Pfahler said. "I thought our kids did a great job executing it.
"Our kids did a great job spacing the floor. We were controlling tempo and getting shots we wanted."
Jones was a big part of the offense, scoring eight of her game-high 17 points in the third quarter as the Irish used a 17-9 run to lock up the win. Sharise Calhoun added 13, including six in the final period.
"Most of the time we were working to get [the ball] into the post," Jones said. "We were just going in strong and getting fouled."
The Fighting Irish also outrebounded Bowsher 34-29. Ashley Frazier led the way with eight rebounds, including five of Central's 14 offensive boards, while Jones added seven.
"Jones and Frazier played extremely well," Lake said. "Jones outplayed us physically, mentally - in every aspect of the game.
"We were prepared for her. We knew she was left-handed and wanted to go right. But she killed us on the boards and offensively."
Tiara Roberts led Bowsher with 14 points while Johnson added 13, but nine of Johnson's points came in the second half. The Rebels missed their first eight shots from the floor in the game and shot just 34.9 percent from the field.
"We changed defenses on them and closed down the line," Pfahler said.
"That's their game: getting the ball into the lane and creating. I thought Lauren Farell did a great job [guarding] Stephany Johnson, and I thought the rest of the kids did a great job of shutting down penetration into the paint."
Pfahler said the win, while important, was just the first step in a four-game span that will go a long ways toward determining his team's success.
"We've got Northview Saturday, we go to Findlay Monday and we've got Waite Wednesday," Pfahler said. "It's a tough four-game stretch. But this is something to build on.
"It's a good win to come out and establish ourselves, but I think this team can get a whole lot better."
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