Van Wert freshman Jamison Clouse (23) looks to score in the lane during a Western Buckeye League game against defiance on Thursday night. Clouse and the Cougars dropped the season finale, but get another shot at Defiance as the two squads will play again in sectional play next week. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
Van Wert freshman Jamison Clouse (23) looks to score in the lane during a Western Buckeye League game against defiance on Thursday night. Clouse and the Cougars dropped the season finale, but get another shot at Defiance as the two squads will play again in sectional play next week. (DHI Media/Tina Eley)
VAN WERT — The game between the Van Wert Lady Cougars and Defiance Lady Bulldogs at the Cougar Den inside Van Wert High School Thursday evening was a dead heat - through one quarter.

Unfortunately for Van Wert, however, the Lady Bulldogs took off on a run to open the second and never looked back, en route to a 53-37 win.

The teams fought to an 11-11 tie after a quarter but, after an offensive explosion for Defiance in the second, the game went to halftime with the Lady Bulldogs leading 29-18.

“I think our energy was great (early). I think we came out in the second quarter and thought ‘hey, we can play with these guys.’ Then they increased the intensity a little bit, and I don’t think we were quite ready for that,” said Van Wert coach Rob Adams.

Van Wert got four points each from freshman forward Jamison Clouse and sophomore post Abby Jackson in the first. Meanwhile, eight first-quarter points from Defiance’s senior guard Morgan Porter kept the game neck-and-neck.

Defiance finally broke serve in the second thanks to 10 points from junior guard Morgan Wityk.

“The game had a decent flow,” said Adams. “They just went on a couple different runs. We’ve been used to this thing all season and, with a young team, you ride the roller coaster. We hit a few here and there, then Defiance gets eight or 10.”

Defiance didn’t give up any ground in the second half, and easily held on for the win.

The Lady Bulldogs shot 42 percent from the field (22-of-52) to Van Wert’s 32 (13-of-41) and the Lady Bulldogs were led by Wityk’s game-high 12 points. Junior forward Emily Poling added 11 points to a balanced Defiance attack which saw six players score 5 points or more.

Meanwhile, Abby Jackson was the only Lady Cougar in double figures, with 10 points. She added a team-high 8 rebounds as well. Junior guard Cassidy Meyers and sophomore guard Sierra Shaffer each added 7 points for Van Wert.

Van Wert’s lone senior senior, guard Ally Jackson, had just 3 points in her final home game as a Lady Cougar. Adams explained that it was an emotional night for the team in sending off Jackson, who broke the school record for 3-pointers in a game and in a season earlier this year.

“We really wanted to play well for Ally,” said Adams. “I think it was an emotional night for everybody. Being our one senior, she’s been through a lot in this program - a lot of ups and downs. I’m proud of her and I’m proud of where she is going.”

The good news for the Lady Cougars is that they will get an immediate chance at revenge, as the two teams square off again in the tournament opener next Wednesday at Spencerville High School.

“This game is over. We’re going to start preparing for Defiance again. We’ve got a lot of film to watch; a lot of things to watch from this game’s film,” said Adams. “I told the girls we’ve got to be ready for next Wednesday. I think they know now. They know that they can do it if they put their minds to it.”

The win improves Defiance to 14-8 on the season, and 4-5 in the Western Buckeye League. The loss drops Van Wert to 6-16 and 2-7 on the season.

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DEFIANCE (53)

Emily Poling 4-7 2-3 11, Zariah Scott 1-6 0-2 2, Laney Baldwin 2-6 0-0 5, Morgan Porter 4-8 0-0 8, Natalie Wichman 3-4 1-2 7, Caroline Turner 3-7 0-0 6, Morgan Wityk 4-9 3-3 12, Kennedy Replogle 1-5 0-0 2.

VAN WERT (37)

Reagan Priest 2-9 0-2 4, Abby Jackson 3-5 4-6 10, Cassidy Meyers 2-10 3-6 7, Alexis Rupert 0-2 0-0 0, Ally Jackson 1-7 0-0 3, Olivia Kline 0-0 0-0 0, Sierra Shaffer 3-5 0-0 7, Jamison Clouse 2-3 2-3 6.

Defiance 11 18 10 14 - 53

Van Wert 11 7 8 11 - 37

3-Point Field Goals: Defiance 3 (Poling, Baldwin, Wityk), Van Wert 1 (Ally Jackson); Rebounds: Defiance 25 (Replogle 7), Van Wert 31 (Abby Jackson 8, Meyers 7); Turnovers: Defiance 9, Van Wert 15.