It certainly had the feeling of a new era for the program.
Seiberling Gymnasium was loud. The fans were into the game from start to finish.
Heidelberg's women's basketball players, most of whom were around the last two seasons, played with energy.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Capital’s Cookie Geroski dribbles past Heidelberg’s Molly Schriber Friday in Seiberling Gymnasium.
All that was needed to cement Morgan Shriver's home debut as coach was a win over Ohio Athletic Conference rival Capital.
But a few local standouts, now with the Crusaders, kept that from happening.
Cookie Geroski, a former star player at St. Wendelin, shook off an early fall to help lead a strong second half surge, as the Crusaders beat the Student Princes, 75-59.
It was Heidelberg's first loss of the season after five wins.
Geroski, Capital's senior guard, had 13 points, three steals and seven rebounds. She also hit a pair of big 3s early in the second half that helped quell an HU run and turn the game into a rout.
Also coming up big was fellow St. Wendelin grad Colleen Fondessy, who finished with 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the floor.
"Cookie always plays well up here," said Capital coach Dixie Jeffers. "It's her home area. She wanted to come home. I though Colleen Fondessy played really, really well, and I thought Brittany Gross played well. They're all three from this area up here, and Cookie's it's her senior year, and she wanted to play her last game here well."
Gross, an Elmwood graduate, had a rebound in five minutes of play.
It wasn't the best start for Geroski, who hurt her nose in the early going and had to leave the game for a few minutes. But she came back with a vengeance.
Capital grabbed an early lead, but Heidelberg battled back, tying the game at 23 on a turnaround jumper by Carli Patrick with 53 seconds left in the half. The Crusaders regained a 26-23 edge at the break, then went on a run to start the second half. They took a 32-24 advantage when Shelby Sheets put in a layup.
Heidelberg responded with a 6-1 run, capped when Allie Hawkins fired in a 3 from the right corner, making it 33-30.
Then Geroski gave her team a lift. With Seiberling Gymnasium as loud as it had been all evening, the former Mohawk quieted the crowd by draining a 3 from the left wing. After a Capital stop, Simonne Gage made a layup, and after another stop, Geroski connected from deep again, this time from the right corner to put the Crusaders up 41-30 with 15:48 left.
"It was so awesome," Geroski said. "As soon as those went in, the team, we were all like, 'Yeah!' we were really into it."
Capital picked up the pace on offense, and the Student Princes weren't able to keep up.
"The second half, when they started running, we stopped doing what we were doing on our defense, and let them have a lot of easy things," Shriver said. "Our on the ball defense was poor and our backside defense wasn't there."
"We just took them out of what they wanted to do," Jeffers said. "We wanted to play at a high pace, and we knew they would play at a high pace with us, and we thought that would play into our favor."
Heidelberg's Megan Miller, a Columbian graduate, had eight points and two rebounds. She said the squad can learn some things from the loss.
"I think we just need to work on sticking together more, and just run through our offenses more, and keep working as hard as we can," she said. "I think we kind of went out of our own game that we're used to playing at the end."
Heidelberg was led on offense by Patrick with 15. Kathleen Phillips, scored six on just 3 of 16 shooting.
"We couldn't really get Kathleen going," Shriver said. "Our flow wasn't the same. Everyone was trying to figure out what to do because we couldn't go through her like we normally do."
Hawkins finished with 13 points.
Capital (3-2) got 20 points from Jamie Caton, who also had eight boards. Both were team highs.