Friday, February 15th, 2008
By Randy Bruns
Rangers knock Flyers out of tournament
Niemeyer, Horstman carry New Knoxville
WAPAKONETA - The New Knoxville Rangers advanced in the Division IV girls sectional Thursday night with a ragged but satisfying 32-29 victory over the Marion Local Flyers.
The tournament opener came just one week after the Flyers had prevailed by four in the teams' regular season meeting.
New Knoxville, now 12-9 on the year, will take on the Fort Recovery Indians Saturday for a chance to play at districts next week in Van Wert.
Nothing was particularly pretty about this one, as both teams struggled with turnovers and poor shooting from the field, but the final quarter had fans from both schools on their feet.
Leading 25-19 after three quarters, the Rangers looked to be in control of the low-scoring affair. The Flyers were forced to rely on outside shots with little success, while the Rangers were getting plenty of perimeter scoring from senior Brooke Niemeyer.
Then, in just two minutes of action it was a whole new ballgame.
Marion tallied the first six points of the final frame to tie the score at 25-apiece, and when Jodi Huelsman then drove the lane for a bucket the Flyers had their first lead since the opening minute of the game.
Niemeyer then hit her fourth three-pointer of the game to put the Rangers back out in front, but Kathy Dirksen answered with a jumper from the wing to give the Flyers a 29-28 advantage with three minutes left in the game.
Both teams then went into an offensive funk, and the score remained the same until the final minute. Marion missed a one-and-bonus opportunity with 38 seconds left, and on the ensuing New Knoxville possession, Niemeyer earned a trip to the free-throw line. Her first shot rolled on the rim for what seemed like an eternity before dropping through the net, but her second was dead straight and New Knoxville had a one-point lead with 17 ticks remaining.
After a Flyer turnover, Casey Horstman nailed a pair of freebies with 12 seconds left, and a Marion Local desperation heave at the buzzer fell short to give the Rangers the win.
"I give our girls credit, because they played some hellacious defense on (Marion's) big girls," said New Knoxville coach Tim Hegemier. "They didn't get the scores down in the paint like they did the last time. Thank God they weren't hitting from the outside."
Indeed, the Flyers shot just 32-percent on the night, and just three of their field goals came from outside the paint.
"We weren't able to knock down any outside shots," said Marion coach Treva Fortkamp. "We had good looks but they just didn't go in. It wasn't our day, but I can't doubt the girls' effort. It's not the girls' fault, the shots just didn't go in. Michael Jordan wasn't perfect, and neither are my girls."
After falling to the Flyers just seven days ago, Hegemier emphasized a tougher approach this time around.
"I just told the girls to be stronger inside, to hold their spots, and not let them push us where they want to go," said Hegemier. "It was the same exact defense as last week, but if they would have started hitting from outside we would have went to man-to-man."
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