NEW WASHINGTON - It was a common theme while listening to Seneca East coach Dave Stallings and his players talk after their game at Buckeye Central.
"Defense dictates offense."
Which is fitting because it was a common theme in the game.
Seneca East's defense forced a Buckeye Central turnover, which turned into a Tiger basket.
And it played out over and over again.
The Tigers led by double digits throughout the entire final three quarters and drove home with a 71-54 victory.
"Our coach always says 'defense dictates offense,'" Seneca East's Ashton Daniel said. "We came out here and we did that. We decided what we want them to do and we made them do it. We caused turnovers and got up and down the floor."
Seneca East (5-2) caused 26 turnovers, with a good amount coming off steals.
"That's something we work on a lot," said Stallings. "We hope to get those steals. I told those girls, beginning of the year, 'I don't care who's the high scorer. If we're getting up and down the floor, that's what matters.' You can see the girls that wanted to score were the first ones down the floor."
Daniel must've wanted to score more than anyone as she finished with a game-high 23 points.
She wasn't alone, though, as her teammates weren't far behind. Brittany Brookes added 14 points while Lauren Sprenger scored 10. Hannah Hahler pulled in nine rebounds and did a good job taking those rebounds and dishing to open scorers.
Stallings was pleased to have more girls step up in the scoring column.
"Lauren and Brittany both have come out and stepped up," he said. "Jess Enders was getting on the floor too. We can't rely on Ashton and Emily (Depinet) all the time, and Hannah does a good job rebounding and looking for the open girls."
Nine different Tigers got into the scoring column.
"We just know each other a lot," Sprenger said when asked the key to her team's balanced attack. "When we run the floor, we know where to get the ball into people so they can score."
Seneca East held a 15-8 after one quarter, before opening the second on a 15-2 run to take firm control.
Daniel knocked down a pair of trifectas to open the run and Cameil Ruffing finished it by converting an and-1 play to leave the score 30-10.
"We just struggled to put the ball in the basket and finish our shots a lot," Buckeye Central coach Sarah Krichbaum said. "They were able to get out in transition and score on us quite a bit, and finish."
The Buckettes fought back, though, going on a run of their own to close out the first half. A Sammi Marcum shot beat the halftime buzzer to cut the lead to 35-23.
Stallings said he told his team he hoped that was the last run Buckeye Central would go on.
"(Buckeye Central) made that run at the end of the first half and I told them 'basketball's a game of runs and I hope that was their run. Because we can't go from a 19-point lead to a 12-point lead at halftime and hope we're going to hang on to it. We got to make our runs to.'"
Seneca East made another run coming out of the break.
While the Tiger defense was forcing turnovers early - 15 in the first half - it turned up the heat in the half-court in the second half.
The Tigers put up the first nine second half points, holding Buckeye Central scoreless until Marcum hit a free throw with 2:36 left in the period. The Buckettes missed their first 11 shots of the half.
"The first three minutes out of the half are real big," Daniel said. "We came out strong and did what we needed to and pulled away a little bit."
"That was a big key, because when we went into halftime ... we weren't doing a good job in our zone of boxing out the backside," Stallings added. "When we went in at halftime I said, 'we're going to take the press off. We're going to play good hard half-court defense.'"
After falling behind by 21 points in the third quarter, Buckeye Central fought back, trimming the lead to 15, 50-35, heading into the fourth. The gap closed to 12 in the final quarter but the Tigers kept their foot on the gas to pull away.
"They penetrate to the basket well," Krichbaum said. "They ran that dribble weave out top, looked for the backdoor cut and we just struggled to get a stop when we needed it. Couldn't get over the hump of 13 points it felt like we were on forever."
Buckeye Central (2-5) was led by Brooke Karl with 13 points. Kilee Kimmel added 12 while Jenna Delarber pulled down 10 rebounds.