Gillig, Blue Jackets chop down bigger Columbian

PHOTO BY JILL GOSCHE New Riegel's Brooklyn Gillig controls the ball against the defense of Columbian's Lizzie Newland during the game in Tiffin Thursday.

Columbian looked like it would cruise to a non-league win against Division IV New Riegel after opening the game with a 9-0 run.

It didn’t happen.

Instead, New Riegel junior Brooklyn Gillig took over.

Gillig, the floor general for the Blue Jackets, scored all of New Riegel’s 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 19 of her game-high 27 points in the first half.

Even with Gillig’s fantastic night, it was the defense of Kristin Coleman and the rest of the Blue Jackets packing it in that didn’t let Columbian’s elusive guard Kaia Woods penetrate or Abby Dryfuse to get going in the post.

After the opening 3:14 of the game, New Riegel wanted the game more, and it got it with a 58-52 victory.

“During practice we knew Kaia Woods and (Hailey Cooper) were the shooters, so the defense was really key tonight because we knew if we could shut them down, we could shut their team down,” Gillig said as New Riegel improved to 7-10.

“Offensively, we just kept the ball moving and we knew we needed some outside shots with their size down low. I knew our team needed (scoring) and I knew I had to step up as the team captain. Once I started hitting shots everyone else began gaining confidence. They started hitting their shots when (Columbian) took me out in the second half. Just to be able to hit those shots to give our team the lead early was big.”

Dryfuse got the game started with a layup for TC (10-8), while Woods had a runner in the lane, Serena Ingalls drained a 3-pointer and Woods hit a pair of free throws to give the Tornadoes a 9-0 lead. Gillig then made 11-straight points for New Riegel, but Hannah Cooper put in five points to end the quarter with a 14-11 TC lead.

The teams went back and forth in the second quarter as seven total 3s were made, including a Gillig trey with 6.7 seconds left in the half to get New Riegel within 29-28.

Once Columbian adjusted with Lizzie Newland playing smothering defense on Gillig, it opened things up for Kayleigh Lininger (12 points) and freshman Aubrey Bouillon (15) for New Riegel.

“(Bouillon) did a good job. Whenever Gillig was penetrating and have two or three people on her she would find Aubrey wide open and she stepped up there and hit a couple big shots for us,” New Riegel coach Cindy Walerius said.

The Blue Jackets took a 43-40 lead after three quarters after a Bouillon triple with 30 seconds left.

They didn’t surrender the momentum.

New Riegel pushed the lead to 50-40 with 5:43 left after a 7-0 run to begin the fourth. Lininger nailed a jumper, Bouillon swished another trey and Gillig made a tough layup in the run.

Woods began to get loose with a 6-0 run herself to pull TC within 50-46 with 3:46 remaining, but New Riegel made 9 of 11 foul shots down the stretch to close it out.

“We are very good at offense and if our shots aren’t falling then you have to make up for it somewhere else and we didn’t,” TC coach Erin Reed said. “We score tons of points every game, so we have to quit counting on that. We need to hold the other team under a certain amount of points every game. That should be the goal. Right now, we can say it’s the goal, but I’m not sure it’s the goal. That just goes back to defense, hustle, aggressiveness, listening.”

Woods, Ingalls, Cooper and Dryfuse all had 11 points for the Tornadoes. Dryfuse pulled down eight rebounds as TC was out-rebounded 37-33.

Gillig and Coleman both grabbed nine rebounds for the Blue Jackets, while Sydney Hohman had eight. Bouillon dished six assists and Gillig finished with four.

“This was a momentum boost, no doubt,” Walerius said. “We have Danbury coming up and we know the rest of the teams we have coming up, but, yeah, this is definitely a boost to get this type of win. We knew coming in they were 10-7. We knew they were Division II. We knew they’ve played really tough competition, but the kids were ready for some reason tonight. Hopefully we can stay this way the rest of the season.”