“It’s just bittersweet,” said Woodruff, a senior center. “This year was really enjoyable. We had a really good bond with each other. We knew we were coming in against a tough team tonight. We all tried our hardest and worked together, so it was a fun last game.”
Talawanda guard Addie Brown gets past Ursuline guard Claudia Johnson and eyes the basket Wednesday night during Division I sectional play at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
The sixth-seeded Lions (16-7) used a 22-11 second quarter to create some separation. Their biggest advantage was 58-37 in the final period.
Ursuline’s pressure defense led to 19 turnovers by Talawanda. And the Lions’ two big girls, 6-foot-5 Maddie Stuhlreyer (21 points, six rebounds) and 6-2 Emma Shaffer (12 points, 10 boards, four assists), commanded the paint.
“It was a little too much for what we’ve got, but the girls stepped up and played great,” first-year Braves coach Tom Head said. “It was small-college speed out there, plus they were big. When they went to that man-to-man halfcourt trap, that was really tough.
“Our girls played from the time the whistle blew until the buzzer sounded, just like they always do. They didn’t pout. They didn’t give up on it. So as a coach, I’m proud of what it looks like out there. If you want to judge me by the play of this team, then I’ll be glad to take that.”
Talawanda was 11 of 25 from 3-point range, but just 3 of 15 from inside the arc. Wright played with a face mask to protect her broken nose — she was slated for surgery Wednesday, but got the procedure moved back to Friday so she could play.
“If we had won this game, we would’ve had an easier game the next game, so I wanted to play the harder game with my team. Or just play a game,” said Wright, who will play next season at Grand Valley State University. “I wanted to play with my team again and not just in the regular season.”
Wright has been playing with the mask for a couple weeks. She took it off when she came out of the game with 14.1 seconds left.
“Hopefully that’s the last time I’ll ever have to wear it,” Wright said with a smile. “I hate it with all my heart, but you’ve got to deal with it. If we had won, I was hinting towards waiting and playing and just having them rebreak my nose. But we just stuck with the 17th.”
Elle Folan and Lauren Klare chipped in eight points apiece for Ursuline, which returns to East on Tuesday to face No. 21 Hamilton (7-15) at 6 p.m. Audrey James contributed eight rebounds.
“Our effort’s always good, but I think being off 13 days, we’re a little rusty in terms of fundamentally taking care of the basketball,” Lions coach Keith Starks said. “I think with three more days of practice, we’ll get better.
“Our pressure is something new. We never really pressured teams all season long, but going into the tournament, we thought we should start applying some pressure so we can get some easy baskets. Tonight, I just think we turned the ball over way too much once we turned them over.”
Talawanda guard Hannah Hurst is covered by Ursuline guard Elle Folan as Lions coach Keith Starks watches Wednesday night during a Division I sectional game at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Ursuline is converting 33.2 percent of its treys this year, yet made only 4 of 18 attempts Wednesday. Stuhlreyer and Shaffer made up for it by combining to sink 14 of 21 field goals.
“We haven’t come up against two big girls like that,” the 5-9 Woodruff said. “It was definitely frustrating.”
“We matched up OK with one big girl, but you throw two in there and then I’m asking Emma to guard a big girl with a broken nose,” Head said. “Her comfort zone is guarding a guard or a small forward. But she battled all night.”
He had special praise for Woodruff and her efforts this year.
“Coming into the year, people thought we had no post at all, and she ended up leading the (Southwest Ohio Conference) in rebounds and field-goal percentage,” Head said. “Girls step up sometimes. You never know when it’s going to happen.”
Brown had six rebounds for Talawanda. Wright added four boards, three assists and three steals.
The Braves, who won nine of their last 11 games and placed second behind Edgewood in the SWOC, are losing four seniors: Wright, Woodruff, Hurst and Gabby Lindley.
“I feel great about the season,” Head said. “Since that first week after Christmas, the girls did everything they could do. We were 10-2 in the conference, and 10-2 would’ve won the conference outright last year. I’m just real proud of them. They were such a fun group to coach. They were a riot.”
TALAWANDA (16-7): Emma Wright 5 5 20, Addie Brown 4 0 11, Katlynn Woodruff 2 0 4, Hannah Hurst 3 2 11. Totals: 14-7-46
URSULINE (16-7): Elle Folan 3 0 8, Alina Infantino 2 1 5, Claudia Johnson 1 1 4, Emma Cain 2 0 4, Maddie Stuhlreyer 10 1 21, Lauren Klare 3 1 8, Emma Shaffer 4 4 12. Totals: 25-8-62
3-pointers: T 11 (Wright 5, Hurst 3, Brown 3), U 4 (Folan 2, Johnson, Klare)
Talawanda guard Gabby Lindley looks to pass around Ursuline guard Elle Folan during Wednesday night’s Division I sectional game at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Talawanda guard Hannah Hurst launches a shot during Wednesday night’s Division I sectional game against Ursuline at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Talawanda guard Emma Wright attempts to pass between Ursuline’s Maddie Stuhlreyer (22) and Elle Folan (3) on Wednesday night during a Division I sectional game at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Talawanda center Katlynn Woodruff and Ursuline guard Elle Folan fight for a rebound on Wednesday night during Division I sectional play at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Talawanda coach Tom Head reacts to a play Wednesday night during Division I sectional action against Ursuline at Lakota East. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD