Making a statement

It was by no mistake that Tina Yates loaded up her Shadyside girls’ basketball team’s schedule for the 2012-13 season.

The veteran Lady Tigers mentor knew playing teams like Wheeling Park (twice), University High, Parkersburg South (twice) and Pickerington Central could only make her team better.

As if the Orange wasn’t battle-tested enough after advancing to the Division IV Final Four two years, with a few of the same faces still around.

Monday night in Hannibal, the Tigers (13-7) likely captured the top seed in the upcoming D-4 sectional tournament with a repeat 55-44 victory over host River (15-4) inside a steamy R.L. Potts Gymnasium.

“I would hope so,” Yates said when asked about the possibility of her squad getting the No. 1 seed. “I was kind of nervous. I’ve been thinking about it, but I wasn’t sure we were going to get it. I think we should now.”

Also in that crowded D-4 field are Bridgeport (18-1) and St. John Central (14-6), along with Beallsville and Frontier.

Shadyside and River were locked in a back-and-forth affair before a 6-0 run midway through the first quarter gave the Pilots a 12-8 edge.

Still behind by four with 4:31 left before the half, Shadyside’s Toni Andes drilled a three-point goal from the right wing while being fouled. The junior knocked down the ensuing free throw to knot the game at 16.

“That was a huge play,” Yates noted. “Not only that it tied the game, but for her confidence, as well. That momentum kind of carried us from there.”

River went back on top as Cassidy McCullough meshed a free throw for a 17-16 reading, but Karli Bonar ignited a 19-4 Shadyside run that spanned the second and third periods and led to a 40-25 advantage after three panels.

The University of Findlay recruit, who was hounded all night by McCullough, tickled the twine on two bonus bombs before the half as the visitors led 26-19 at the break.

Those two treys left Bonar four short of the Ohio state mark for girls.

It also helped that River turned the ball over nine times in the second quarter alone. The Pilots would finish with 21.

“I knew we had 11 turnovers at halftime,” River head coach Rick Isaly said. “Turnovers was one of the really big things. We had a goal of not turning the ball over because we knew you just can’t do that against a team as good as Shadyside.”

Back-to-back buckets by sophomore Kenzie Fielding to start the second half bumped the count to 30-19, and Bonar connected on three straight charity tosses after being fouled behind the arc.

Trailing 40-25 after three, River reeled off the first seven points of the final chapter to pull to within eight, but Shadyside countered with a game-ending 15-12 run to seal the deal.

Holenka tallied seven of her game-high 18 points in the final quarter. Bonar added five as they teamed for all but one of their team’s points in the fourth frame. Bonar finished with 14 and Fielding added a dozen.

“It’s a team game,” Yates said. “We need contributions from everyone, and lately we’ve been getting that. I think we’re gelling at the right time.”

McCullough paced River with 14 points, one more than freshman Jensen Caretti, who also grabbed nine rebounds as River enjoyed a slim, 28-23, edge off the glass. Emile Weaver had seven boards and Haylee Bowers six. Fielding tied Caretti for game honors with nine caroms. Kristen Fijalkowski pulled down eight.

River avoided a sweep when it won the JV game.

SHADYSIDE (55) – Bonar 3 6-7 14; Holenka 6 6-9 18; Fijalkowski 2 1-5 5; Andes 2 1-1 6; Fielding 6 0-0 12; Johnson 0 0-0 0; Jackson 0 0-0 0; Totals: 19-42 14-22. RIVER (44) – Lak. Ramsay 3 0-0 6; McCullough 6 2-4 14; Caretti 5 2-4 13; Bowers 1 1-4 3; Weaver 2 1-2 5; Lan. Ramsay 1 0-0 3; Cieszeski 0 0-0 0; Jones 0 0-0 0; Totals: 18-41 7-14.

Three-Point Goals: Shadyside 3 (Bonar 2, Andes); River 1 (Lan. Ramsay)

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