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Published: Friday, 12/21/2012

Genoa’s rally comes up short as Eagles remain perfect with 60-54 win

BY DAVID BRIGGS
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Toledo Christian girls basketball coach Tandy Bradford got mad first. Then her team did.

In a game defined by its wild swings, the Eagles responded to their coach’s burst of fire early in the second half with the biggest run of them all in a 60-54 victory over visiting Genoa.

TC (6-0), picked to unseat four-time defending champion Ottawa Hills atop the Toledo Area Athletic Conference this season, remained perfect behind junior guard Darian Westmeyer’s 25 points, senior Hannah Wehrle’s 14, and a pair of decisive runs.

The second one came with the game tied at 31 during its most stagnant stretch of the night.

After Bradford’s plea to the officials for a foul resulted in one on her instead — and two technical free throws pushed the Comets (5-2) ahead by two points — TC flipped the deficit into a runaway with a 17-1 rush.

“I’m going to back them,” Bradford said. “They’ve got big goals. I’m here to make sure their goals happen. They’re going to play hard and they’re going to fight hard. That’s my job.”

Asked if she felt the technical foul spurred the team, Bradford smiled and turned to Westmeyer standing beside her.

“I hope it did,” she said.

"I think it did,” Westmeyer said.

No matter the impetus, the run made the difference on an otherwise tightly contested night that was not decided until the final minute.

Genoa, off to a fast start after finishing 9-13 last season, rallied from a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to pull within 56-54 after a 3-pointer by Katie Jensen with 42.1 seconds left. But the Eagles did not let the visitors score again while Wehrle, Westmeyer, and Faith Johnson closed the game at the free throw line.

It was a fitting finish. This came after a first half that tilted from one extreme to the other, with a Comets team led by Ciara Albright’s 18 points using a 12-0 surge to push ahead 29-23, only to watch TC run off the next eight points to crash halftime with a 31-29 lead.

That led to the Eagles’ deciding run, which was powered by a cast of four different scorers but ultimately led by Westmeyer.

The 5-foot-8 guard did it all the entire night, scoring every which way — in transition, in the half court, on 3-point plays from the arc and in traditional style.

“When we got down a little bit, we came back strong,” Westmeyer said. “We just played our game, and made sure we shut them down the best we could. We all wanted it so bad.”

Added Bradford: “We knew it would be hard fought. Genoa has a good team. ... Our goal was to stay composed and challenge ourselves and finish 6-0 before Christmas.”

Johnson added nine points for the Eagles while Mackenzie Harder contributed six.

For the Comets, Chelsea Lavelle and Haley Plantz each scored seven points. Haley Gerke and Jensen added six points.

Contact David Briggs at: dbriggs@theblade.com, 419-724-6084 or on Twitter @DBriggsBlade



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