BUCYRUS, Ohio — Tiffin Columbian started slow, but finished with a flurry.
Madalyn Brisendine scored 11 of her game-high 15 points in the second half as the Tornadoes rallied for a 34-33 win over Lexington in the opener of a Division II sectional semifinal doubleheader at Bucyrus High School.
Columbian (7-15) was held scoreless for nearly seven minutes to start the game, trailed 11-2 after the first quarter and 14-4 midway through the second. The Tornadoes closed the half on an 11-2 run and trailed 16-15 at the break.
“Our shots weren’t falling,” Columbian coach Erin Reed said. “We weren’t making our bunnies. We weren’t making our outside shots.”
Game Changer: Lexington (9-14) lost athletic junior Abigail Adams to a knee injury late in the first half. Adams, who scored eight first-half points, tried to come back in the second half but played sparingly before re-injuring the knee in the fourth.
“She’s our defensive anchor on the wing,” Lady Lex coach Nate Lautzenhiser said. “If she’s not guarding their best player, she’s helping.
“With her off the floor, we get a step slower.”
Second-Half Surge: The Tornadoes took their first lead of the night on a Brisendine 3-pointer early in the third and led 24-21 going to the fourth. Lexington reclaimed the lead at 26-24 early in the fourth on Julia Kocher’s three-point play, but Abby Dryfuse scored four consecutive points to put Columian back on top with 6:38 to play.
An Adams 3-pointer gave Lady Lex a 29-28 lead with 5:55 remaining, but Brisendine scored on a pair of tough layups to give the Tornadoes the lead for good.
“They were tremendous shots,” Lautzenhiser said. “She was going to her left and she was not even turning her body and throwing them up. They were hitting the glass and going in. I’m not really sure how.”
Lex trailed 32-30 with less than two minutes remaining before Columbian’s Beth Roof knocked down an elbow jumper with 1:47 to go. A three-point play by Lexington’s Olivia Kearns trimmed Columbian’s lead to 34-33, but the Tornadoes held Lady Lex scoreless 1:30 to preserve the win.
Leaders: Adams topped Lexington with 11 points. Kocher had nine points and nine rebounds, while Kearns added nine points.
Dryfuse backed Brisendine with eight points and a game-high 11 boards.
Turn-Around Season: Lexington was 2-21 last season. Lady Lex will lose just three seniors to graduation.
“The season was great,” Lautzenhiser said. “We went from averaging 30 points a game to about 40 points a game and we had 120 more assists this year.”