Piqua Daily Call
BROOKVILLE —- During his long and successful high school coaching career, Chris Besecker’s teams have been known for their stingy defense.
So, it should come as no surprise that the Bradford girls basketball team’s defense shined when it mattered most Tuesday night in a Brookville D-IV sectional action.
The Lady Railroaders, 18-6, held Catholic Central to just one field goal in the fourth quarter as Bradford pulled away to a 52-40 victory over the Irish, 17-7.
Bradford will now play Tri-Village, 22-1, for the sectional title at 6 p.m. Wednesday
“Another week of having the girls in the gym,” Besecker said about his young team. “What more could you ask for?”
And Bradford’s defense took over after the Irish had cut the Bradford lead to 37-35 going to the fourth quarter.
That was led by Austy Miller, making Catholic Central sophomore Abigail Peterson work for every point she got in the second half. While, Peterson finished with a game-high 25 points it didn’t come easy.
At the same time, Bianca Keener held Irish freshman post Mallory Mullen to one field goal in the game and just four points.
“We have some pretty good on-ball defenders,” Besecker said. “Emma (Canan) had her (Abigail Peterson) in the first half and Austy (Miller) had her in the second half. We like to pride ourself on our defense.”
Abby Gade hit a shot to open the fourth quarter and Miller drilled an NBA three to put Bradford up 42-37.
“Abby (Gade) really gave us some great minutes off the bench,” Besecker said. “She hit some big shots. So, did Austy (Miller). But, really all the girls did. Austy (Miller) has a knack for the game.
“She made some big passes, hit some free throws, grabbed an offensive rebound of a missed free throw. She makes those kind of plays.”
Keener scored off a Miller assist with 3:31 to play to give Bradford a 44-36 lead.
From there Bradford, despite struggling from the line most of the game, put the win away from the charity stripe.
Miller was 6-for-8 and Emma Canan and Gade were both 1-for-2, while Gade had a big steal in the final minute to seal it.
“We struggled a little bit from the line tonight,” Besecker said.
The first half was close throughout.
Peterson scored the Irish’s first 10 points and finished the half with 15.
But, Bradford countered with 13 points from Keener in the post —- as Emma and Rylee Canan and Miller picked up assists. Cassi Mead and Emma Canan added 3-pointers as Bradford led 11-8 after one quarter and 28-24 at the break.
“They did (the guards did a good job finding Keener),” Besecker said. “And she did a good job finishing. That was an option we weren’t sure was going to be there.”
The third quarter started with another three by Mead.
But, Bradford scored just six points the rest of the quarter and the Irish closed within 37-35, before Bradford’s defense took over in the final eight minutes.
Keener finished with 17 points and five rebounds, while Miller had 13 points and seven rebounds.
Gade added seven points, while Emma Canan and Mead both scored six.
Trisha McConnell had five rebounds for Catholic Central, but Peterson was the only one to score more than five points.
Bradford was 18 of 40 from the floor for 45 percent and 12 of 22 from the line for 55 percent.
Catholic Central was 15 of 36 from the floor for 42 percent and six of nine from the line for 67 percent.
Now, the sixth seeded Railroaders face the top seeded Patriots for a sectional title.
“It is going to be tough,” Besecker said. “We played them the first conference game of the year. They play great defense. We only scored 18 (points) the first time. But, we are thrilled to making the trip back down here (to Brookville) Monday.”
Which is all the Railroaders could ask for after a big win Tuesday night.
Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at email@example.com