Good thing Gilmour Academy sophomore center Jess Janota is a little more than 6-foot-2, otherwise the Lancers and their local ranking might have been trimmed down to size on Thursday night.
Missing two crucial starters and a bunch of three-pointers in the second half, Gilmour needed every bit of Janota’s extensive frame to overcome a stiff challenge at Bedford and win, 47-45, in overtime.
In the extra period, Janota, who finished with 10 points, altered a shot and gathered in a pass from sophomore Kelsey Dugger which she banked in over smaller Bearcat defenders to help the Lancers to a 5-1 season record in defeating winless Bedford (0-4).
Junior Dominique Edomwande, who also finished with 10 points, scored a basket and made two of four free throws for Gilmour’s remaining points as the Lancers held the Bearcats to two baskets in overtime and perhaps preserved their No. 14 ranking in the Plain Dealer’s Top 25 poll.
Dugger led all Lancer scorers with 12 points. Bedford sophomore Danyelle Chambers bulled her way to a game-high 14 points, while senior Taylor Ward joined her in double figures with 10. Fortunately for the Lancers, the Bearcats were awful from the line making 4-of-17 free throws.
Janota’s game went in and out throughout the night as she struggled against Chambers’ power game and was in foul trouble for much of the contest. Chambers fouled out Janota with a little under a minute remaining in overtime.
"Obviously, it wasn’t my best day," said Janota, who also had six rebounds. "I just tried to keep my head and tried not to remember all of the mistakes I’d made. It was overtime. It was important. I just tried to focus on the last few minutes."
Head coach Bob Beutel, who is in his seventh season at Gilmour, didn’t want to blame the night’s struggles on missing senior starters Abbey Deckard (knee) and Rachel Staton (concussion). Nonetheless, he said it had an impact.
"It’s going to take us a couple games to adjust. So we were just hoping to get out of here with a ‘W,’ while we’re making that adjustment. And it happened. The kids are happy … I’m not trying to make any excuses for our poor shooting, but there are just so many factors tonight."
It didn’t initially look like the Lancers would have a poor shooting night, though.
In fact, Gilmour had the three-pointer working early and often as Edomwande and Dugger each canned two to put the Lancers up, 20-9, after the first quarter. But the Lancers made only 1-of-13 from beyond the arc for the rest of the game.
In the second quarter, Janota scored on a jumper and senior Calla Telzrow made a pair of free throws for Gilmour’s only points. Fortunately for the Lancers, the Bearcats were equally as cold with only a pair of Chambers’ buckets to show for their efforts and the 11-point edge remained at halftime, 24-13.
Lancers weren’t lighting it up in the third quarter either as they managed a mere five points. But the Bearcats began to change their fortunes as senior Diamond Nelson’s three-pointer capped off an 11-5 run in the quarter to draw to 29-24.
The Bearcats went on an 8-1 run to open the fourth quarter and went ahead, 32-30, on Ciara Herrings’ bucket at 5:40. The lead exchanged hands three times until Rena Brooks’ basket put the Bearcats up, 37-34, at 2:53.
But the Lancers rushed back and eventually tied the score as Kelly Harrington made a jumper off her dribble and knotted it, 39-39, with 1:17 left. After a Bearcat turnover, Dugger then found Janota inside for a go-ahead score, but Ward hit a baseline jumper with 17 seconds left to tie at 41.
A mad scramble under the basket led to a jump ball in favor of the Lancers with one second left. Dugger inbounded the ball to an uncovered Janota at the elbow, but the sophomore’s shot bounded off the rim and sent the game into overtime.
The Lancers next host St. Thomas Aquinas on Wednesday with a 7 p.m. start.
Gilmour Academy 20 4 5 12 6 47
Bedford 9 4 11 17 4 45
Gilmour – Jess Janota 10, Kelsey Dugger 12, Calla Telzrow 9, Nikki Porter 6, Dominique Edomwande 10.
Bedford – Diamond Nelson 3, Taylor Ward 10, Rena Brooks 4, Danyelle Chambers 14, Ciara Herring 7, Darnisha Floyd 1, Taylor Murphy 6.