Lehman Catholic girls rally for win over Riverside in NWCC play

SIDNEY — Lehman Catholic coach Craig Hall wasn’t sure who the Cavaliers next opponent would be — that’s the kind of season it has been.

“I know we were suppose to play St. Henry Saturday and that has been cancelled,” Hall said. “We were supposed to play Emmanuel Christian next week and that has been cancelled. So, I am not sure who are next game is against. It has been a crazy year.”

The fourth quarter of the Cavaliers NWCC matchup with Riverside was just as crazy Thursday night.

But, the Cavaliers made all the plays down the stretch to pull out a 42-36 victory and improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the NWCC, while Riverside dropped to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the NWCC.

And a big part of that was the decision to play freshman Mara O’Leary and Taylor Geise only on varsity.

“That’s the first game where they haven’t played any JV,” Hall said.

After Kiersten Franklin scored off a steal by Caroline Wesner, Lehman led 32-23 early in the fourth quarter.

But, Riverside would go on a 13-1 run and put Lehman in a 36-33 hole with less than two minutes remaining.

Lauryn Sanford had five points in the run and Jade Copas added four.

“We wanted to stop them from catching and shooting,” Hall said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of that. When they realized that, they started having success with the dribble and drive.”

That’s when O’Leary came through with two straight baskets to give Lehman a 37-36 lead with 42 seconds to go.

“I just felt like it was time to have her play full-time varsity,” Hall said. “Those were two big shots.”

Freshman Kiersten Franklin hit one of two free throws to make it 38-36 with 19.7 seconds to go.

“Having Kiersten (Franklin) out top on defense has helped us immensely,” Hall said. “She is so quick. She is new to our program and still learning the offense.”

Lehman got the ball back after Greve deflected the ball off a Riverside player out of bounds with 9.1 seconds left.

Heidi Toner, who had taken a big charger earlier in the quarter on Sanford, was fouled with 5.9 seconds left.

At that point, Lehman was just six of 22 from the line for the game and two of 12 in the fourth quarter.

Toner calmly sank two free throws and Anna Cianciolo added two more to make the final 42-36.

“When Heidi (Toner) got fouled, the girl hit her elbow and said she couldn’t feel her arm — I told her that explained how she made both free throws,” Hall said with a laugh. “I don’t even want to go there (on the free throw shooting). Heidi had taken a big charge in the fourth quarter that I felt like changed the momentum.”

The game had begun with Riverside taking a 5-0 led, but Lehman recovered quickly and led 9-7, 21-18 and 30-23 the quarter breaks, before the Pirates rallied.

“I felt like we were getting beat to the ball on the rebounds,” Hall said about Riverside’s rally. “But, this is a good win for us.”

O’Leary led Lehman with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Toner had nine points and seven rebounds.

Cianciolo filled out the stat sheet with nine points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Franklin added eight points.

Kristin Schoenblum led Riverside with 12 points.

Sanford scored 10 and Copas added six points.

“This has been a crazy year,” Hall said. “I missed our first scrimmage because I had to go through quarantine.”

So, Thursday’s crazy finish only seems fitting.