The Sandy Valley gymnasium turned into Hannah Butler's hardwood on Thursday, Dec. 27 as the East Canton Wizards knocked off the Lady Cardinals 37-34.
The East Canton senior point guard logged a game-high 25 of the teams 37 points, and with her two assists was involved in 78 percent of the Wizard scoring. She also put the team on her back after trailing early in the game.
Sandy Valley ended the first quarter ahead 11-9 as they ran an early full-court press which the Wizards had some trouble breaking, leading to four points off of turnovers.
Although the defense was solid early on, the offense for the Lady Cardinals never really got going as a Sadie Bowling triple was the team's first points from the floor, a little over three and a half minutes into the game.
Part of the offense was also hindered by foul trouble, as sophomore guard Rylee Bowling got pegged with two quick fouls less than two minutes into the game.
Butler then began the second stanza with two quick buckets putting the Wizards up 13-11. Three made free throws on two different possessions gave Sandy Valley the 14-13 lead with four minutes to go in the half.
Sloppy play then led to a scoring drought for both teams for a little over three minutes until Butler found some isolation and penetrated into the post while getting fouled for an old-fashioned three-point play with 5.8 seconds left in the half. It gave East Canton a 16-14 lead going into the locker rooms.
Sophomore Courtney Huffman tied the game back up in the Lady Cardinals' first possession of the half, but two quick baskets from senior Brianna Payne put the Wizards back on top.
Things also got somewhat heated in the third quarter as one of the officials gave the Sandy Valley bench a warning for talking about the calls being made after hearing comments from both the players and the coaches.
Sadie Bowling kept the Cardinals in the game with five of the team's 10 points in the quarter, but a big Alexis Wellendorf trey kept some separation going into the fourth as the Wizards maintained a 28-24 lead.
Butler hit a quick baseline jumper in the fourth giving the Wizards a six point lead, their largest of the game.
It was soon after that Lady Cardinal assistant coach Brian Steffey received a technical after a questionable jump ball call for saying that Payne 'rolled over with the ball and traveled' after the benches had already been warned.
Butler went to the line for the resulting two free throws, but kept Sandy Valley in the game by missing both.
The Wizards might have sealed up a victory early had it not been for shooting an abysmal 11-of-28 from the charity stripe, which was a 39 percent mark.
The Cardinals took advantage as S. Bowling put in three of her team high 13 on an open jumper from downtown, which cut the deficit to four.
After S. Bowling split two free throws, Huffman was fouled trying to tip an offensive carom, then made both of her freebies from the line.
S. Bowling then fouled out with 25.6 seconds to go, and in the double bonus, Butler made both of her shots from the stripe.
With 7.6 seconds to go, the Cardinals ran down the floor and dumped the ball off to Destinee Hughes, who put up the game-tying three, but only to miss it at the buzzer giving the Wizards the win.
The Cardinals struggled from the floor all night as they shot 24 percent to East Canton's slightly better 32 percent.
Freshman Sarah Greiser led the Wizards with 11 rebounds while Huffman and Becca Dix each grabbed five for the Lady Cardinals.
The Lady Cardinals will next play Indian Valley at home on Jan. 3, while the Wizards play host to Woodridge on Saturday, Jan. 5.