By Grant Pepper
Another tough GCCL team squared off with the Jills in The Pit on Saturday, just two weeks after Oakwood fell to mighty Mt. Notre Dame in a physical contest. Ursuline Academy, winners of seven of their last eight, escaped Oakwood with a 50-42 win, despite 29 points and 16 rebounds from senior Jill Elizabeth Haley.
Ursuline, 17-4 overall (9-1 in GCCL), who lost to Mt. Notre Dame in a close game earlier this winter, started off slow versus the scrappy Jills.
Through good ball movement, the Jills took the early lead. However, Ursuline came storming back with a sweeping layup by sophomore point guard Ali Schirmer, and an Oakwood turnover lead to a transition three-pointer by junior forward Sarah Reilly, crushing the Jills’ momentum.
The Jills would lock down on defense towards the end of the first period; hedging high ball screens and crashing the defensive glass, Oakwood took the lead 14-11 heading into the second quarter.
Like Mt. Notre Dame, Ursuline turned up the defensive pressure and the Jills could not respond. Ursuline forced the Jills into turnovers, leading to transition three-pointers and a fast break layup by sophomore Mattina Girardot that put the visitors up 20-14, forcing Oakwood head coach Aaron Oakes to call timeout.
And, like usual, Haley lead the Jills back. Haley and junior guard Anne Whalen converted on layups to bring the Jills within four, Murdock knocked down a couple of free throws, and Haley stole the ball at half court and finished an easy transition layup to bring the Jills within one possession of Ursuline.
Yet, the Jills still struggled with Ursuline’s full court, trapping press. Reilly crashed the glass all afternoon, especially late in the first half, and the Jills found themselves down 25-24 at the half.
Both teams traded baskets to start the second half, Haley converting layups and Ursuline striking back with smooth mid-range jumpshots. Driving layups by sophomore Megan Oglibee and senior Caitlin Cashman stretched the Ursuline lead to five midway through the quarter, 34-29.
The Ursuline defense brought more of the same; full court ball pressure and relentless trapping, causing multiple Oakwood turnovers. While Ursuline stormed ahead, the Jills would not go away.
Haley would convert two fastbreak layups off of two steals- one by Haley, one by sophomore guard Madison Teeters- to end the quarter, with the Jills down just five.
Although the fourth quarter started sloppily for both squads, Haley free throws cut the lead to four. However, Ursuline’s pressure was simply too much for the Jills in the final minutes, as more steals and transition baskets put the game just out of reach for the home team. Ursuline forced 21 Oakwood turnovers on Saturday.
A Schirmer baseline jumper put the visitors up eight with just two minutes left to play, and Ursuline would hold on to defeat the Jills, 50-42.
This was the last regular season game for the Jills this season, as the team finished with a 9-13 overall record (5-7 in the SWBL). The Jills move on to play Thurgood Marshall (14-5 at time of seeding) in the first round of the state tournament. The game will be this Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at Springboro High School.