Big third quarter pushes Maplewood to win

Feb. 13—COCHRANTON — Maplewood walked into a hostile environment at The Bird Cage, but the Tigers left victorious.

With Maplewood's 43-32 win against Cochranton, the Tigers finished the regular season 19-3 overall and 12-0 in Region 2. Monday's game wasn't a walk in the park for the Maplewood.

Cochranton led by one point at halftime and it was a battle to score for both teams. The difference in the game was third third quarter. Maplewood altered its defensive strategy. It resulted in a 12-2 advantage for the Tigers in the third stanza.

"They got in a little zone there and it took us out of our rhythm. We had bad turnovers. We got hesitant on offense in terms of looking to shoot. It just threw us off," Cochranton head coach David Zamperini said. "Maplewood is a good team. Like I said, both teams would come ready. I thought we played better than the last time we saw them, but we can't get outscored 12-2 in the third quarter and expect to stay in the ball game against a good team."

Maplewood forced five turnovers in the third quarter, which led to easy buckets in transition. Junior Madison O'Hara scored eight of her game-high 18 points in the quarter.

"We mixed up our defense a little and made sure they understood their assignments. We have a tendency to try and guard everybody and you can't do that," Maplewood head coach Shawn Rhoades said. "Against good teams that have shooters you definitely can't do that. I think we played smarter. We had some tips, deflections and transition buckets. Once we do that it gets everyone in the flow of things and they can play a little more free."

Maplewood pushed the lead to double digits early in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals cut the deficit to six points on an Eve Pfeiffer 3-pointer with about five minutes to left to play.

Cochranton had opportunities to score over the final few minutes, but couldn't get shots to fall.

Pfeiffer finished with 10 points for Cochranton. Shelby McBryar scored seven and Claire McCartney six.

Cochranton is 8-3 in region play and 11-10 overall. The Cards will conclude their season at home on Thursday against Youngsville.

"We've gotten better (this season). If we can put together four consistent quarters I think we can beat anybody were gonna see, but we actually have to do that," Zamperini said. "Defensively I think we're fine, but it's putting the ball in the hoop. We've struggled at that for at least one quarter a game."

Maplewood's regular season is over and the Tigers are once again Region 2 champions. Monday's physical game along with several tough non-region games against bigger schools is exactly what Rhoades wants his girls to get used to before a postseason campaign.

"Our non-region games are physical and that's playoff basketball. We have to get ready for it because that's what we'll see for as many games as we can stay in it," Rhoades said. "Every win we've had is a team win. Whether it's defensively or offensively with different people stepping up. I am proud of the girls. They've done a great job and deserve all the credit. They do the work."

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Maplewood (43)

M. O'Hara 8 2-3 18, S. O'Hara 3 4-6 10, Despenes 1 2-2 4, Means 1 0-0 3, Koelle 1 4-4 6, Banik 1 0-0 2.

Totals: 15 12-15 43.

Cochranton (32)

Pfeiffer 3 2-2 10, McBryar 3 1-2 7, Rodax 1 2-4 4, Williams 1 0-0 2, McCartney 2 2-6 6, Custead 1 0-0 3.

Totals: 11 7-14 32.

Maplewood 8 10 12 13 — 43

Cochranton 11 8 2 11 — 32

3-point goals: Maplewood — Means; Cochranton — Pfeiffer 2, Custead.

Alex Topor can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at atopor@meadvilletribune.com.