The Roughriders (16-3, 13-0) turned the ball over 23 times, while the Trojans turned it over 16 times. There was also a stretch of six-plus minutes at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth when neither team scored a point.
Western assistant coach Brett Robson continued to handle head coaching duties in place of Laura Pierson. Robson said despite the struggles, he was proud of the way his team played.
“We had our backs against the wall numerous times today,” Robson said. “I think our senior leadership pulled through when it needed to.”
Robson also said that even though they have clinched the conference, it is important for the girls to stay hungry and continue to play hard. He said they have been setting new goals as the regular season comes to an end.
“When you clinch with three games left, it is easy to fall back into that mode,” he said. “We tried to set some individual goals and reset the team goals. You go from being the first to win the conference, to now let’s win them all. Let’s go unblemished.”
Western led a back-and-forth first quarter, 10-8, and the second quarter played out in similar fashion.
The largest lead by either team was a four-point lead by the Trojans (10-10, 8-5), though the ’Riders went into halftime up 20-17.
The ’Riders began to pull away in the third quarter as the South Central only scored five points in the quarter. The Trojans made a pair of free throws with about two and a half minutes to play in the quarter to cut the lead to 29-22. But after that, neither team scored for almost seven minutes.
The Trojans broke the cold streak with a basket halfway through the fourth quarter. After the ’Riders added a free throw, the Trojans answered back with two of their own to cut the lead to 30-26 with 3:21 left to play.
However, the Trojans went scoreless the rest of the way, and Western closed it out with five points to win by nine.
South Central coach John Vogel said his team is going to need to do a better job on the offensive end in the future to beat a team of Western Reserve’s caliber. The Trojans were down just three points at halftime, but only scored nine points in the second half.
“We just didn’t get it done down the stretch,” Vogel said. “We’ve got to score more than 26 points. But keeping a quality team like that to 35 — I think that’s a win for us. We just got to do it on the offensive end.”
Vogel praised his team’s defensive effort and was proud that they were able to force the Riders to turn the ball over as much as they did.
“Forcing Western into 23 turnovers, I don’t think they are a team that typically turns the ball over like that,” he said. “I give my kids a lot of credit. They played disciplined and tried to stay in front of people. I thought we did overall a good job tonight.”
Andrea Robson led Western with 11 points. Brooke Ommert added nine on three 3-pointers. Sarah Oney was the Trojans’ leading scorer with nine, including six free throws.
Western Reserve will close out FC play on Thursday vs. Monroeville, then visits Clyde on Saturday in a non-league regular season finale.
South Central entertains Mansfield St. Peter’s on Tuesday before closing out the season at St. Paul on Thursday.