FREMONT – Olivia Baptista was ready to play Thursday night.
As Fremont Ross hosted Findlay, the Lady Giants were coming off their first loss of the season Monday against Toledo Central Catholic. That loss left a bitter taste in Baptista’s mouth that she was ready for a new flavor.
“I was eager to play,” Baptista said. “I was pretty mad about that game on Monday.”
Baptista willed her team to a win against Findlay. She scored 22 points, had four steals and three assists in leading the Lady Giants to a 53-46 victory.
“I was eager to play today and I was ready. From the beginning of the game, I was ready,” she said.
From the game’s earliest moments, as Baptista went, so went the Lady Giants. She scored or assisted on four of Ross’ first five field goals of the game. She opened the second quarter with a steal under the Findlay basket where she drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws. Ross led 16-8 with six minutes to play in the second quarter, but when Baptista picked up her second personal foul, and subsequently sat a long stretch on the bench, the Lady Giants’ offense stalled.
Findlay went on a 9-0 run over the next five minutes, taking a one-point lead. Ross, however, got an answer from an unlikely source. Kennedy Bohannan, seeing increased playing time off the bench due to starter Rachel Gore missing the game due to a family obligation, stole the ball in the defensive end and ran the floor end-to-end and converting on a layup to retake the lead.
Moments later Baptista, checked back into the game for the final minute, assisted on a basket by Brooklyn Baptista and Ross took a three-point lead into halftime, 20-17.
“Olivia, with two fouls in the first half and I had to sit her down, that kind of hurt,” coach Juan Vela said. “That shows what kind of player she is for us, then in the second half we came together.”
After turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, the Lady Giants were more cohesive in the third quarter and the scoring was more balanced. Mikeaya McLaurin hit a 3-pointer the Olivia Baptista hit a baseline running jumper. Marissa Overmyer and connected on a nice give-and-go basket to McLaurin then Brooklyn Baptista connected on a 3-pointer before Olivia Baptista closed the quarter with a 3-pointer and an easy layup on a nice feed by Overmyer giving Ross a 37-24 lead entering the fourth quarter.
While Baptista’s scoring steals the show, Vela said is everything she does beneath the surface that makes the ultimate difference.
“Fans will always look at the points, and that’s why they’re fans, and when she scores 22, it looks like she had a great game,” Vela said. “I think as coaches, seeing her every day, it’s the little things that she does that means a lot to this team. Putting kids in the right spots offensively and defensively, the way she carries herself as a point guard. There are times when she brings everyone together and talks to them, I don’t know what she says to them, but she brings them together.”
Ross expanded its lead in the fourth quarter with a rapid eight-point run, the first four points from Baptista, followed by a drive by Bohannan then Bohannan ran a textbook 2-on-1 play with Jasannah Sabiers, dishing the ball to Sabiers for a 51-34 lead with 2:30 to play, seemingly putting the game away.
Bohannan, gave Ross a steady presence in Gore’s absence, finishing with four points, two steals and an assist.
“She’s a smart player,” Vela said of Bohannan. “The last couple weeks she’s gotten her basketball legs so she’s quicker and she makes good decisions. She’s a smart player and we talked that she’s going to be playing a lot tonight and she showed up and did a good job.”
But Findlay didn’t go away. The Trojans hit a run a 3-pointers and suddenly Ross’ lead was trimmed down to five points with under a minute to play before Ross hit a couple free throws and grabbed some defensive rebounds to finally put the game to rest.
“High school varsity basketball teams are not going to lay down because you’re up by 17,” Vela said. “All it takes is a couple threes and an and-1 to get the momentum going and if we don’t respond quickly it’s going to be a game. We learned that from Perkins (last week) and we’ve learned that long time ago, but we have to fix that problem.”
The Lady Giants (3-1 overall, 1-1 TRAC) return to action next Thursday when they host Lima Senior.
Fremont Ross 53, Findlay 46
FHS| 8—9—7—22 – 46
FR| 12—8—17—16 – 53
Katie Prusnek 6; Katie Thomas 17; Kristen Scherger 2; Kaylee Brodine 8; Chloe Holliday 8; Kelsey Shindeldecker 3; Brianna Nichols 2.
FREMONT ROSS (53)
Brooklyn Baptista 12; Olivia Baptista 22; Kennedy Bohannan 4; Molly Mies 2; Mikeaya McLaurin 7; Jassanah Sabiers 4; Marissa Overmyer 2.