Girls basketball: Inexperienced Bluffton rallies past Elida in second half

Jan. 16—BLUFFTON — For first-year Bluffton girls head basketball coach Adam Burris, this season has been a work in progress.

Despite having just one varsity player back from last season, Burris is feeling optimistic with the progress.

In Tuesday's nonleague matchup with visiting Elida, Bluffton pulled away in the second half for a 49-37 victory.

With the win, Bluffton improved to 6-7 overall. Elida slipped to 3-11.

Ayla Grandey, a 6-foot-2 junior post player, led Bluffton and all scorers with 16 points, including 8 of 9 shooting from the free-throw line. Grandey came away with seven rebounds and two steals.

"Ayla (Grandey) is our only varsity player back (from last year)," Burris said. "So, we are young and inexperienced. We had four starters graduate. There's been a learning curve, but they have responded well."

Along with Grandey's solid performance on Tuesday, Macy Schaadt scored 14 points, including two 3-pointers. Schaadt also had three boards and three steals. Blair Utendorf added eight points and five rebounds for the Pirates.

"I felt like we held our own (inside the paint)," Burris said. "It makes things a little easier when you have 6-2 (Grandey) in the middle. Even our guards were battling down in the post. I was happy.

"Macy (Schaadt) responded well. In the first 12 games, she has started. We wanted to try something different tonight. She (Schaadt) came off the bench, and you never know how kids are going to respond. She responded really well. It was awesome."

Jojo Knight and Emma Mitchell scored 10 points each for Elida. Mitchell came away with six rebounds and two blocks. Leah Ramirez scored seven points and dished out four assists. Lilly Sifrit had six rebounds, two steals and three points for the Bulldogs.

The game was tight for a little more than two quarters.

Elida led 9-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Bulldogs slipped into the halftime break with a 20-18 advantage, thanks to a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Elida's Lilly Sifrit.

However, Bluffton came out strong in the second half. By the end of the third quarter, the Pirates led 31-25.

In the final eight minutes, the Pirates were 5 of 8 shooting from the field and 8 of 12 from the free-throw line as they pulled away for the win.

"When we gave up the lead at halftime (on Sifrit's 3-pointer), I was a little nervous," Burris said. "But we battled back. I thought our half-court defense was great. We were getting deflections, which led to steals.

"When we get it inside, we feel like we can get her (Grandey) points. Then, when she kicks it out, our guards can score. That's good stuff. It worked out well tonight."

For the game, Elida shot 32.4 percent from the field. Bluffton connected on 36.6 percent of its field-goal attempts.

Elida committed 20 turnovers, while Bluffton turned the ball over 18 times.

Bluffton won the battle on the boards, 32-24.

Burris was pleased with how his bench players responded.

"We went nine (players) deep tonight, so we could stay fresh. It was good to see everyone responding and everyone doing their roles tonight. So, that was nice," Burris said.

Bluffton 49, Elida 37

Elida 9 11 5 12 — 37

Bluffton 8 10 13 18 — 49


Leah Ramirez 7, Jojo Knight 10, Jordan Gladen 2, Lilly Sifrit 3, Oliveah Sanders 5, Emma Mitchell 10. Totals: 12-9-37.


Ashley Fleece 4, Gracie Warren 5, Macy Schaadt 14, Blair Utendorf 8, Lauren Bassett 2, Ayla Grandey 16. Totals: 15-17-49.

3-pointers: Elida — Leah Ramirez 1, Lilly Sifrit 1, Oliveah Sanders 1, Emma Mitchell 1; Bluffton — Macy Schaadt 2

Records: Elida 3-11; Bluffton 6-7