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Bulldogs’ 57-35 win over OHS snares share of OBC

Posted on Monday, February 5, 2018 at 5:33 pm

B. Ansbaugh nets 21 on 7-of-7 from 3-point land

By J. Daniel Pearson
For the News-Gazette

Thanks to Bailey Ansbaugh and Eno Inyang’s combined 38 points, St. Cloud rolled to a 55-38 win over Osceola Friday in the regular-season finale for both schools.

The win also gave St. Cloud a share of the Orange Belt Conference with Osceola and, the biggest benefactor without being in the gym, Celebration, as all three teams finished their county schedule with identical 5-1 records.

Earlier in the year Celebration beat St. Cloud (19-6) and Osceola (18-4) beat Celebration.

“It’s too bad we can’t put all three teams in the gym and play a three-minute round robin and break the tie for the county championship,” St. Cloud head coach Chad Ansbaugh said.  “But it is what it is.  We’ve been looking forward to this game for a couple of weeks now and I really like how we came out and took control.”

The game was never in doubt as Baily Ansbaugh came out red hot, hitting her first seven three-pointers in the first half, one short of the school record in a game, scoring all of her game-high 21 points before intermission. It was the second straight game that Ansbaugh made six or more three-pointers.

Friday night was the first Osceola-St. Cloud girls basketball game without the physical influence of former coach and Bulldog inspiration Tim “Mac” McMullen, who passed away at school in May. The team passed out “Coach Mac” tribute wristbands before the game.

“You believe what you want but something was in the air (Friday),” Coach Ansbaugh said. “Bailey passed out wristbands today and then opened the game 7-for-7 beyond the arc. Why the wristbands? Steff (Chad’s wife) and Bailey knew how important St. Cloud versus OHS was to Coach Mac. He is St. Cloud basketball. I am just guarding the gate.”

Inyang (17 points) was a force on both ends of the floor, scoring seven points and dominating the glass as the Lady Bulldogs built a 32-11 lead at the half.

Osceola struggled mightily from the floor, hitting just two field goal attempts in the first half and just five through three quarters as it fell behind, 45-18. The Kowgirls shot 17 percent from the floor for the game.

“They struggled a little from the floor, but I would like to think our defense had a lot to do with that,” Coach Ansbaugh added.  “We put a lot of pressure on their guards and kept our intensity level up for most of the game.”

The Lady Kowboys, behind Taylor Shelley’s team-high 18 points, managed to outscore St. Cloud in the fourth quarter, 20-10, to cut the final margin to 17.

St. Cloud opens the post-season on Tuesday hosting a District 8A-6 quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. against Viera, a team they defeated 56-15 back in January. Celebration hosts Liberty Tuesday at 6, those winners will square off on Thursday at 7 at Celebration, making a Celebration-St. Cloud rematch possible and likely entertaining; the Storm, 12-7 but winners of eight of their last night, won the regular-season game 50-49 on Alyssa Rayko’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

Osceola hosts a District 9A-7 semifinal on Thursday at 7 against Ridge.