Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
By Randy Bruns
Redskins, Rangers open postseason with victories
Division IV Sectional at Wapakoneta
  WAPAKONETA - A pair of Midwest Athletic Conference teams advanced in the Division IV sectional tournament on Tuesday night at Wapakoneta High School, and their reward will be playing more leaguemates.
The St. Henry Redskins opened the evening by fighting off a fourth-quarter rally by the New Bremen Cardinals to advance with a 52-37 victory.
In the nightcap, the New Knoxville Rangers held off the determined Ridgemont Golden Gophers with some clutch foul shooting down the stretch to squeeze out a 40-37 decision.
Both winners advance to Saturday's sectional finals at Wapakoneta. St. Henry (10-11) will square off against the 13-7 Minster Wildcats in the opener at 6:15 p.m., while New Knoxville (5-15) takes on the number-one seeded Marion Local Flyers (16-4) in the nightcap.
St. Henry 52, New Bremen 37
The Redskins jumped out to big leads in the first and third quarters only to see the Cardinals close the gap.
In the end, though, St. Henry's lead proved too big to conquer with a little help from some proficient foul shooting.
The Redskins jumped out on top early with a 9-1 run to start the game, but the Cardinals whittled their deficit to three at the quarter break and later took a one-point lead at 16-15 on a jumper by Caitlin Chaney.
Kenzie Bruggeman responded with a five-point spurt of her own to put the Redskins back up by four, but it was neck and neck the rest of the half as the Cardinals drew to within two at halftime.
St. Henry still held a two-point lead early in the third when it put the pedal to the floor. Three-pointers by Bruggeman and Becky Dirksen highlighted a 15-2 run over the remainder of the quarter, and the slim two-point advantage had turned into a 15-point bulge.
The Cardinals didn't fold the tents, though. Haley Moeller scored seven points in the first three minutes of the fourth during a 9-2 run that sliced the Redskins' lead down to eight points.
St. Henry then played an extended game of keep-away, and when the Cardinals were forced to foul, the Redskins cashed in at the charity stripe. St. Henry hit six in a row down the stretch to seal the victory.
"In the first half we played pretty even and we had some difficulty figuring out what to do against their zone," said St. Henry coach Jeff Roessner. "In the third quarter we started going to some high-low action and we were able to put some distance between us."
New Bremen coach Dave McFeely's undersized Cardinals didn't have an answer for St. Henry's interior height.
"When you're 5-foot-10 and they're 6-2 there's not a whole lot you can do when they get position on you," said McFeely. "Our goal was to get their big girls in foul trouble, but it wasn't until the end of the third quarter that we got what we wanted, and by that time we were just out of gas."
The Redskins got most of their offensive production out of three seniors. Bruggeman led all scorers with 21 points, Dirksen tallied 14 and Heather Rammel contributed 12. Jackie Niekamp ended a fine career with the Cardinals by leading her team with 10 points.
New Knoxville 40, Ridgemont 37
These two teams didn't bring sparkling records into their matchup, but they put on an entertaining contest nonetheless.
The Rangers jumped out to a 15-9 advantage late in the first quarter, but the Golden Gophers went on a 13-3 run to take a four-point lead late in the first half.
Ridgemont later led by three going into the final period, but foul trouble for its go-to girl Paige Guenther spelled trouble. New Knoxville got a three-point play by Taylor Elshoff to go on top 32-30 early in the fourth, but Guenther later tied things at 34-apiece with three minutes left in the game.
Elshoff then drove the lane for the tie-breaking bucket and tacked on two free throws to stake the Rangers to a four-point lead with two minutes remaining. The Golden Gophers later pulled within one after three freebies, but Taylor Arnett canned a pair from the stripe to put the Rangers back up by three with 25 ticks left on the clock.
Ridgemont had a couple chances at tying three-pointers but both attempts were off the mark and New Knoxville escaped with the victory.
Elshoff paced the Rangers with 13 points and Haley Dillon chipped in with 11, while Guenther's 22 points led the Golden Gophers.
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