Van Wert's Alexa Dunlap puts up a shot while being guarded by an LCC defender in a game at LCC Monday. The Lady Cougars won the contest in double overtime. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)
Van Wert's Alexa Dunlap puts up a shot while being guarded by an LCC defender in a game at LCC Monday. The Lady Cougars won the contest in double overtime. (Times Bulletin/Tina Eley)

Times Bulletin Correspondent

LIMA - In a game with plenty of twists and turns, Van Wert came out on top of Lima Central Catholic Monday night, 62-57 in double overtime. The Lady Cougars are now 8-9. The Lady Thunderbirds are 8-10.

Both teams had plenty of chances to win it during the fourth period, first overtime, and second overtime, but the Cougs finally put it away with free throws in the last minute. LCC's Kayla Verhoff started the second extra period with a wide open layup to put the hosts up 51-49. Van Wert's Alexa Dunlap laid one in off of an Erin Morrow assist to tie it at 51. After LCC missed two free throws, Dunlap got two more layups, both courtesy of Hannah Hulbert assists -- 55-51, Cougars, at 1:50. Verhoff, however, countered with a trey from the right corner to get within one at 55-54. Morrow sliced inside and barely got a layup over the front rim -- 57-54 at 1:04. After a T-Bird turnover, Morrow cashed in two pressure-packed free throws -- 59-54. LCC missed two more free throws, and Morrow sewed it up by hitting two more with 11 ticks left.

There were plenty of huge plays before the second OT, however, beginning in the fourth quarter. LCC led 39-32 with 2:45 left in the game, and things looked dire for the Cougars. However, a couple of missed front ends and a rash of T-Bird turnovers got Van Wert back into it. Morrow hit two freebies, and Alexis Dowdy hit one of two to cut it to 39-35. LCC missed a front end, and Morrow cashed in two more from the stripe -- 39-37 at 1:28. The T-Birds missed another front end, and Dowdy scored on an inbounds pass from Dunlap, then added the and-one -- 40-39, Van Wert, with 24 seconds left. Morrow picked off a pass and was fouled, but hit only the second of two -- 41-39 with 0:10.8 on the clock. However, Verhoff sliced inside and threw up an eight-foot runner at the buzzer; it bounced high off the back rim and dropped through to force the first overtime.

Dunlap banked in the second of two free throws to start the first overtime with a 42-41 lead, but LCC's Meredith Shepherd nailed a layup and a put-back to go up 45-42. Hulbert hit the first of two free throws, and, after an LCC turnover, Dowdy put back her own miss to tie it at 45. Another T-Bird miscue allowed Morrow to slice inside for a tie-breaking layup, but LCC's Sydney Santiguida did likewise -- 47-47 at 1:01. Claire Butler rattled in a 12-foot baseliner with 46 seconds left to get a 49-47 lead, but Shepherd's elbow jumper tied it at 49 at 0:10. Van Wert couldn't get another shot off, forcing the second overtime.

Van Wert spurted to an 11-2 first quarter lead, but it was an offensive struggle thereafter for the Cougars. The T-Birds gradually climbed back into it, regaining the lead at 19-18 with 2:46 left in the second period. Three more lead changes immediately followed, allowing the Cougs to go into the locker room up 22-21. The third period started well for Van Wert, with Dowdy splitting two pairs of free throws and Dunlap scoring on a break to lead 26-21. However, that lead was gone quickly via three-balls from Elizabeth Kidd and Shepherd -- 27-26, LCC, at 3:09. Four more lead changes quickly followed, but the fourth one came on a corner three by Shelby Warner, putting the T-Birds up 32-30 going into the fourth period.

LCC is likely to start its next practice at the free throw line where the T-Birds hit only 1 of 10 Monday night. Van Wert, especially Morrow (9 of 10) was much better, cashing 66 percent (19 of 29). The field goal shooting was virtually even -- 41 percent (24 of 59) for LCC, 40 percent (21 of 52) for Van Wert. The Cougars dominated the boards 39-26, but had one more turnover, 23-22. The T-Birds stayed in it by draining eight three-pointers, while Van Wert had only one.

Giving LCC credit, first year coach Katie Krieg has only one returning letter winner, Shepherd, but the T-Birds are very competitive.

"They move so well without the ball, so we needed to pressure up on the ball so they couldn't just stand there and look and find cutters," said Van Wert coach Lance Moonshower. "Unfortunately, when we do that we stand up, people go by us. Their face cuts, all game long, I don't know why, we just couldn't stop it. I don't know how many layups they got from that."

The Cougar offense also struggled, per Moonshower. "We tend to dribble the ball too much," he said. "Early on we were moving the ball with the pass, and we were getting easy shots. But then they pressured up on us a little bit, and we tend to want to just dribble to release pressure, and we get out of our offensive sets altogether."

Van Wert had big scoring nights from Dowdy (20), Dunlap (18), and Morrow (15). Morrow, the Cougars' leading scorer, couldn't start the game after tweaking her ankle in warmups. Shepherd led LCC with 19 points. Six other Thunderbirds scored between 5 and 8.

"Honestly, there were spots where the girls made mistakes, but they came back later and redeemed themselves," said Moonshower. "That's kind of the story of the night. We weren't real consistent. It wasn't really pretty at times, but they sucked it up and didn't drop their heads, which is something we've been having trouble with. The girls just kept fighting."

LCC (9-9) won the jayvee game 36-20. LCC's Lauren Dardio had 12 points. Kelsey Dotson had 11 for Van Wert (3-14).

Score by quarters:

LCC 6 15 11 9 8 8 - 57

Van Wert 11 11 8 11 8 13 - 62

LCC (57)

Santaguida 4 0-3 8, Shepherd 8 0-0 19, Mohler 2 1-4 5, Taflinger 2 0-0 5, Verhoff 3 0-2 7, Kidd 3 0-0 8, Warner 2 0-1 5, Farler 0 0-0 0. Totals 24 1-10 57.

Van Wert (62)

Hulbert 0 3-6 3, Dunlap 8 2-4 18, Claire Butler 2 0-0 4, Dowdy 7 5-9 20, Hall 0 0-0 0, Livia Butler 1 0-0 2, Moonshower 0 0-0 0, Morrow 3 9-10 15, Jones 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 19-29 72.

Three-point field goals: LCC 8 (Shepherd 3, Kidd 2, Taflinger, Verhoff, Warner), Van Wert 1 (Dowdy).