BASCOM -Tim Ritzler has always thought his Calvert girls had the makings of a good rebounding team. But that potential hasn't always shown in the stat book.
With the Senecas facing an extra busy schedule this week and the tournament on the horizon, there's no time like the present to finally get it done.
Calvert did just that against Hopewell-Loudon here Monday in powering to a big first half lead and then maintaining for a 60-40 makeup Midland Athletic League win.
It might not have been the best of shooting nights for either club, but the Senecas did not lack for opportunities. Calvert owned a 19-8 rebounding edge in the first quarter alone and expanded the advantage to 27-14 by the half.
That edge eventually showed on the scoreboard as the Senecas opened a 39-21 lead and were in control throughout.
"That's one thing, with the size that we've got, I didn't think we were rebounding as well as we should be earlier in the year," Ritzler said after his club improved to 12-4 overall and 5-2 in league play.
"But the last couple weeks, we've really picked it up on the boards," he said. "The girls have really started to focus on getting rebounds. They understand that when you get defensive rebounds, it's easier to get out on the break.
"We're always looking to run a little and try to get ourselves some easy transition baskets," he said. "I think we've outrebounded our opponent the last three games and we've played some pretty good competition in Carey, Mohawk and now Hopewell-Loudon."
Inside hoops by Taylor Ritzler and Kate Brickner offset a 3-pointer by H-L's Aleta Daniel in the first two minutes. The Senecas then went on a 12-2 run that set the tone.
It was a balanced attack in multiple ways. Calvert had five girls score in the first period and eight were on the board by halftime. Five Senecas scored seven or more points and there was similar balance in rebounding - five had four boards or more.
"We've been able to go nine or 10 deep pretty much the whole year," Ritzler said. "We had a lot of people coming off the bench hit some shots and make some plays for us tonight."
Early deficits have been especially problematic lately for the Chieftains (10-6, 3-5).
"That's been our story," H-L coach Rod Daniel said. "And when you play the New Riegels, the Calverts and the Mohawks of the league, that makes it really rough.
"We've been giving up that early big lead in the first half and then we play more like we're capable after that," he said. "But at that point, it's pretty tough to overcome.
"Tonight was a very physical game - we told the girls going in that's the way it was going to be," he said. "But we struggled early and we let them get to the free throw line. And they were pretty good there."
Especially Taylor Ritzler, who made 9-of-11 from the line on the way to a game-high 17 points. Brickner was next with 12 points, including a couple 3-pointers, and fellow starter Nicole Bickley checked in with eight points and seven rebounds.
Two major contributors off the bench were Lindsey Bickley, with nine points and a team-high nine boards, and Ashley Perry, who finished with seven points.
"Lindsey had a real good game for us tonight," Ritzler said. "She's struggled a little bit with her shot, but she's staying focused and finding other ways to contribute. She's been crashing the offensive boards and now, the shots started to fall as well."
Hopewell-Loudon got 13 points from Courtney Burns and 10 points and 10 rebounds from freshman Brook Arbogast. But from there, the scoring dropped to six points by Alexis Feindel, who also had seven rebounds in limited play.
The Chieftains hit just 16-of-55 from the field, including 1-of-10 from long range.
"We preach we want to get shots, but a lot of them tonight weren't quality shots," Daniel said. "But tonight, we were forcing things a little bit and it showed in our shooting totals."