LEBANON — The regular season didn’t include a single Greater Catholic League Coed Division victory for Fenwick High School’s girls basketball team.
Suddenly that seems like a long time ago.
The Falcons rose up and knocked off GCLC rival Chaminade Julienne 38-35 in a Division II sectional opener Saturday afternoon at Lebanon, ending a five-game losing streak in the process.
“The kids wanted it. You could tell the first three possessions they wanted it and believed in us,” Fenwick coach Scott Dalton said. “And if they’ll believe in the coaching staff, we’ll get results. The energy on the bench and in the stands was incredible. That helped.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT COVERAGE
Hannah Tebbe equaled her career-best scoring effort with 18 points for the Falcons (10-13), who got thumped twice by the Eagles — 60-45 on Jan. 9 and 53-34 on Feb. 6 — during the league campaign.
Hannah Beckman chipped in nine points and nine rebounds for Fenwick. Its last tournament victory came over Reading on Feb. 19, 2013.
“It feels so good to come out on top,” said Falcons sophomore forward Emily Adams, who had four points and six rebounds. “This is what matters. I think we just worked hard at it. We knew what we had to do, we knew what we had to fix, and it’s hard to beat a team three times.”
Next for ninth-seeded Fenwick is a return trip to Lebanon to meet No. 3 Badin (16-7) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Falcons lost to the Rams 53-35 on Dec. 8 in Hamilton.
“Badin’s a great-coached team,” Dalton said. “We know what’s coming. We know what they do. It’s so physical when we play them, but we aren’t afraid of them. We’re going to play our best and give 100 percent and see what happens.”
CJ, the No. 7 seed, never led Saturday. The Eagles (9-14) fell behind 15-4 and spent the rest of the day playing catch-up.
“Every time we thought we were in a position to get the lead, we’d make a bad play, they’d make a great play, and then we were clawing and scratching to get back in it,” CJ coach Randy Duff said.
“They came out with energy and enthusiasm. It’s girls basketball, man. If your players want to play with energy and enthusiasm, you’re ahead of the game right away. The crowd got behind them, and it was a fun atmosphere. My kids responded in the second half, but they didn’t respond in the first half. We just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Dalton felt the key to the victory was Fenwick’s triangle-and-two defense. The goal was to shut down Courtney Redd and Staci Greene as much as possible, and it worked. Redd didn’t score, while Greene managed two points.
Jordyn Varise marked 16 points and was the only Eagle in double figures.
“We put a man on Redd and a man on Greene and did what we could to stop them,” Dalton said. “We knew (Varise) was a penetrator, so we had that triangle if she got past the first person. The first two times we played them, we played man-to-man. She would get past us and we didn’t have backup.
“We watched tons of tape on them and felt this was the best scenario for us. We thought we had a chance if the kids stuck with the game plan.”
Duff said it was the first time this season CJ has encountered an opponent that used the triangle-and-two for an entire game.
“I’m not a big fan personally of gimmick defenses, but it sure worked,” Duff said. “We kind of played the way we’ve played the last three or four weeks. We can’t score the ball, and if somebody’s physical with us, we don’t respond to that. You can’t play in the GCL and play in this tournament and not handle a physical presence on the floor.”
Varise collected seven rebounds and six steals for the Eagles, and Eve Monaghan added six points and seven boards. Duff said the nucleus of the team will be back next season, which will be his third year as head coach.
“Our entire season is a microcosm of the fact that we’re so young,” he said. “There’s times I look out there on the floor and I’ve got a sophomore and three freshmen playing. I think we’ll elevate ourselves next year. I told them when I took this job I thought it was a three-year rebuild, so I guess if I don’t have it next year, they’ll find somebody else.”
Elena Daly contributed five points and three boards for Fenwick, sinking a big 3-pointer in the fourth stanza. Brooke Brunner had three assists.
The Falcons were 10-of-20 from the foul line. CJ was 4-of-6.
Chaminade Julienne 4-9-10-12—35
FENWICK (10-13): Hannah Tebbe 4 7 18; Hannah Beckman 3 3 9; Brooke Brunner 1 0 2; Emily Adams 2 0 4; Elena Daly 2 0 5. Totals: 12-10-38
CHAMINADE JULIENNE (9-14): Teri McCann 1 0 2; Jordyn Varise 7 1 16; Staci Greene 1 0 2; Eve Monaghan 3 0 6; Aaliyah Smith 1 1 3; Campbell Zwierzchowski 1 2 4; Grace Strickland 1 0 2. Totals: 15-4-35
3-pointers: F 4 (Tebbe 3, Daly), C 1 (Varise)