Playing their best when their best counted the most, 7-7 New Bremen followed the lead of senior Chloe Homan Thursday to knock off #6-ranked host, Marion Local.
Maria Stein, OH – It’s cliche’ after a hundred years of basketball to say that a team won by playing its best basketball in those moments when nothing less than best would have been enough.
On the other hand, there’s no other explanation for the New Bremen Cardinals’ 45-39 win over #6-ranked Marion Local Thursday night, in front of a packed gym…when the irony of the moment was heavy enough to cut with a knife.
Marion, a team who features physical, aggressive pressure defense, and a bruising game in the post, offensively, had none of that going for them Thursday for the fact of a simple 2-3 zone employed by New Bremen…a tactic that was anticipated, and yet seem to make the Flyers helpless to penetrate that zone, attack the rim, and make the most of their physical advantage.
“We didn’t get into any flow, offensively,” explained Flyers coach Beth Streib. “Credit New Bremen because they played really well in that zone, we knew they were going to do it, but they made enough adjustments in it to make it hard to get the ball inside consistently.”
In the meantime, New Bremen senior Chloe Homan had her best game of the season – cliche’ – when it did matter the most, scoring ten points in the first half, then icing the game in the waning moments of the fourth quarter by coolly canning six consecutive free throws in the final 51 seconds. She finished with a game-high 19 points.
“The girls just went out and played with confidence,” said New Bremen’s Andy Timmerman. “And Chloe is a helluva’ player. She just does everything for us, I’m not gonna’ lie. She leads us in every category you can think of. And it’s not just statistics, Chloe is a great leader – great example, great player, and a great person.”
From the outset the game dragged, New Bremen taking the opening tip and scoring…then settled into that 2-3 zone, forcing Marion to pass the ball around the top of the zone rather than put it on the floor, attack the paint, score or draw fouls. Homan and Michaela Firks each scored 4 points; but Marion scored 10, helped by a Kate Ashman 3-pointer, to take a 10-8 lead.
The two teams exactly duplicated the first quarter…in the second quarter. Nora Eckstein, Mya Eckstein, and Ashman each scoring 2 for Marion, while post player Allison Dirksen added 4 points. Bremen simply countered with a pair of three-pointers from Marina Nelson and Abbie Burden, and a bucket by Homan to go to the halftime dressing room trailing by 4, 20-16.
Both team needing points, and a kick start to the pace of play, New Bremen came back out with that stubborn zone, while Marion became noticeably more aggressive, but again fell into a pattern of shooting from behind the arc, rather than attacking the rim. Avae Unrast and Ashman did hit a pair, but they missed more than they made, which allowed long rebounds and easy possessions by New Bremen…who just kept casually bringing the ball up the court, taking time of the clock, and getting the shot they wanted. Firks would score 6 in the quarter, Homan would score 4. But at the end of three Marion still had a four-point lead 32-28.
New Bremen’s Mary Rindler scored the first points of the fourth quarter, the game now losing even more pace, as things slowed to a near crawl. Neither team scored a true transition basket! And with Marion clinging to a 32-30 lead at the 4:28 mark, Homan stepped out on the wing and hit a three-pointer that finally gave the Cardinals a lead, 33-32.
Marion would retake the lead at 34-33, but the New Bremen zone was enticing enough that Marion continued to try and shoot over it instead of attacking inside. They missed on back-to-back possessions, while New Bremen scored inside with Homan. Unrast and Dirksen would eventually hit a pair of threes, but Bremen was doing its own damage while maintaining a 2 or 3-point margin – Rindler and Firks scoring on shots that ringed the rim before falling through. And forced to foul, Marion kept sending Homan to the line.
But to send anyone to the line the Flyers had to further disrupt the pace of play by fouling New Bremen five times to get them to the bonus.
Inside the final minute, Homan would hit six straight, all net, without so much as grazing the rim.
Firks would split a pair to push the lead to six.
Dirksen’s three-pointer from the top of the key would cut it to three points, but ensuing free throws by Homan pushed the final point tally out to 45-39.
“That was fun…yeah, it was,” said Homan, afterwards. “That’s a really good team and it feels good to have a good team win against the #1 team in the MAC. I think we could have been more aggressive on offense in the first half, but in the second I think we drove it more and got a few more, better shots.”
And the free throws….?
“My mindset was to just do it for the team,” she added. “Put ’em in and we get a win. I was a little bit nervous, but everyone is at that point of the game. But I kept thinking…gotta’ do this for the team, get this win, it’s a big win for us.”
Homan would lead all scorers with her 19 points, teammate Michaela Firks joined her in double figures with 14, Mary Rindler had 6, and Nelson and Burden each had 3 points each.
For Marion Local, Allison Dirksen was effective at the rim, scoring a team-high 13 points, but just didn’t get enough shots. Avae Unrast had 11, Kate Ashman had 8, Mya Eckstein had 4, and Nora Eckstein had 3.
The locker room was loud, afterwards. The win improved New Bremen’s record to 7-7, while the loss dropped Marion Local to 11-4.
“It was a great experience for us,” said Homan. “Emotional…we needed the hype from it. Everyone was really excited.”
Andy Timmerman wasn’t kidding when he said his senior, Chloe Homan, does everything for his team.