Monday, March 10th, 2008
By Ryan Hines
Rangers make state for first time since 1947
New Knoxville takes perfect 24-0 record to the Schottenstein Center
DAYTON - New Knoxville's balance was a big reason why it went undefeated during the regular season and that same balance is why the Rangers are going to the state tournament for the first time since 1947.
The Rangers had four players reach double figures and turned a close game in the first half into a 61-45 blowout over Cincinnati Seven Hills at the Division IV regional finals on Sunday at UD Arena.
New Knoxville (24-0) now meets Wayne Trace (21-4) on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center in a state semifinal matchup. The other state semifinal contest pits Worthington Christian (25-1) against Bedford Chanel (17-8) at 5:15 p.m.
The story of the game was that New Knoxville had balance and Seven Hills didn't.
Brad Piehl had 17 points and a game-high nine rebounds, Austin Arnett scored 13 points and the combo of Tony Meyer and Ryan VanderHorst each contributed 12 points.
"It has been that way all year," said New Knoxville head coach Dan Hegemier about his team's balance on offense. "That's the way it is with New Knoxville. The guys share the ball so well and pass the ball pretty well. All in all, it's a nice team to be around. I have no complaints at all. A lot of times this late in the year, the coach gets tired of the guys and the guys get tired of the coach, but you don't with these guys."
Jake Davis scored a game-high 20 points for Seven Hills and Drew Kohn had 17 points, but the other 12 players that stepped onto the court for the Stingers combined to score just eight points total. Davis and Kohn each attempted 15 shots while no other Seven Hills player shot more than three times.
Seven Hills head coach Willie Hill knew he needed more balance to beat top-ranked New Knoxville.
"New Knoxville brings a lot of weapons and you have to stay on everyone," said Hill. "We have multiple people that are able to score for us, but their defense didn't let that happen. We needed more balance in order to beat New Knoxville. They had four guys in double figures and that makes a big difference."
Davis and Kohn were able to keep Seven Hills close in the first half trailing just 32-29, even led briefly at 18-17, but New Knoxville dominated play in the second half.
New Knoxville picked up the defensive pressure in the second half and outscored Seven Hills 12-4 in the third quarter to extend its lead to 44-33.
"That third quarter was the big difference for them," said Hill.
A deuce by Seven Hills to start the fourth quarter was then greeted by a 9-0 New Knoxville run that put the Rangers on top by 18 points, at 53-35, with just 4:02 to play in the game.
Seven Hills never got closer than 14 points the rest of the game.
New Knoxville outscored Seven Hills 14-0 off turnovers in the second half and held its opponent to just 42 percent shooting in the final two quarters after letting the Stingers shoot 62 percent in the first half.
"We started the first five of six minutes of the first quarter playing very well, but after that, I thought for the rest of the first half we had slow feet and allowed them to penetrate to the basket," said Hegemier. "At halftime we talked about that we had to play defense and you've got to defend your man. I thought that in the third quarter and for all the fourth quarter except the final two or three minutes we did a really good job. That's where the game was won."
The Rangers shot 58 percent from the field in the game, thanks to 15 of their 23 field goals being layups. New Knoxville also held an 18-6 advantage on fastbreak points in the game.
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