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Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Flyers and Redskins clear first hurdle as girls' tourney begins

Division IV Sectional at Wapakoneta

By Randy Bruns

Marion Local's Ashley Wilker, with ball, is fouled by a Ridgemont defender durin. . .

WAPAKONETA - Tuesday's Division IV girls sectional semifinal doubleheader provided a pair of games that contrasted greatly but both produced winners from Mercer County.
The Marion Local Flyers dominated the opener from the get-go and never looked back in cruising to a 53-22 thrashing of the undersized Ridgemont Golden Gophers.
The second game was much more entertaining and the St. Henry Redskins held off a dogged effort from the New Bremen Cardinals to earn a hard-fought 42-37 victory.
Both winners advance to Saturday's sectional finals at Wapakoneta. Marion Local (13-8) will face a familiar tournament foe in the number-one seeded Minster Wildcats (18-2) at 6:15 p.m., while St. Henry (7-14) takes on the New Knoxville Rangers (15-5) in the nightcap.

Marion Local 53, Ridgemont 22
Having height does not mean everything in the game of basketball, but it certainly beats the alternative.
The starting five for the Ridgemont Golden Gophers gave up an average of four inches per player to the starters for Marion Local, and the difference was evident from the start.
The Flyers pounded the ball inside at will during the first quarter, with Chelsea Winner as the main beneficiary. The 5-foot-11 sophomore drilled all five of her shots in the lane during the opening frame in outscoring the Gophers all by herself. The Flyers ended the stanza with a 17-6 advantage, and things didn't get any better for the Gophers in the next period.
Megan Seitz began the second with a jumper from the wing, Marge Wuebker followed with a three-pointer, and after Lauren Subler and Alyssa Winner both knocked down jumpers the Flyers had themselves a 20-point bulge at 26-6.
The Gophers scored the last bucket of the first half but didn't dent the scoreboard again until the final seconds of the third quarter, putting them on the wrong end of a 45-10 score.
Plenty of substitutes saw action in the fourth quarter, and Ashley Homan capped the evening by proving the bank can be open at night, as she rattled home a jumper off the glass to finish the scoring.
"I thought the girls did a good job and we were able to push the tempo a little bit in the second quarter," said Marion coach Treva Fortkamp. "In my 13 years here I don't ever remember playing the early game but we got through it and I'm glad we played a game because otherwise we would have had 10 days off."
Chelsea Winner was the lone player in double digits with her 14 points, while three of her teammates each chipped in with six markers. Cierra James paced the Gophers with eight points.
Fortkamp must now turn her team's attention to Saturday's seemingly annual postseason tussle with Minster.
"Nann (Stechschulte) has a tremendous program and obviously they're number five in the state for a reason. They are very fundamentally sound and we'll have our work cut out for us, but I think the girls are up to the challenge. We have nothing to lose so we're going to play our game and see what happens."
St. Henry 42, New Bremen 37
Just over four weeks ago these two faced off in the regular season, and the Redskins administered a 22-point thumping to the young Cardinals.
What a difference a month makes.
The Cardinals, who start four sophomores and a junior, have obviously made significant strides since that beat-down and put quite a scare into the Redskins on this night.
The game's opening moments were a nightmare for the Redskins, who committed five turnovers in the first two and a half minutes of the game. The Cardinals capitalized on the miscues and built a 10-point advantage late in the first frame before Stacey Lange's three-ball brought the Redskins to within seven at the end of the period.
The second quarter was the complete opposite, with the Redskins forcing numerous turnovers by the Cardinals and turning them into points on the other end.
Ashley Heitkamp dropped in a jumper to force a 14-14 tie, and teammate Rachel Lefeld followed with a pair of long-range bombs to put the Redskins up 20-14 late in the second quarter. Amber Paul snuck in a layup just before the end of the half to draw the Cardinals back to within four at the intermission.
After quickly falling behind by eight, the Cardinals came roaring back midway through the third. Kyla Otting began the comeback with a pair of free throws and Hannah Holdren followed with a bucket from close range. Paul then hit a pair from the stripe before finding Otting with a nifty pass that the sophomore converted into a layup that knotted the score at 26-apiece going into the final frame.
New Bremen took a quick lead on a trifecta by Meagan Brandt, but Rachel Lefeld answered right back with a bomb of her own to tie things back up. Heitkamp then dropped in a pair of freebies and Lange followed with a bucket in the lane to give St. Henry a four-point bulge.
The Cardinals got to within two with just two minutes left after a bucket from Holdren, and they later had a chance to tie but missed an open jumper. Sara Lefeld grabbed the rebound and proceeded to go coast to coast for a layup that put the Redskins back up by four.
Otting dropped in a trey to bring the Cardinals back within three with 20 ticks left, and when the Redskins missed the front end of a one-and-bonus it looked like this one would go down to the wire. Instead, Kylie Koesters snared the offensive board and was fouled, and when the sophomore drained her two foul shots the Redskins had it in the bag.
"With the injuries we have our depth was down to six, but they played their hearts out," said New Bremen coach Randy Eckert. "We worked so hard in the last month since we played (St. Henry) previously and it's amazing the turnaround we made. If we had gotten a couple breaks here and there, we're the ones that are walking out of here with a win."
St. Henry coach Jeff Roessner, who utilized a rotation of 10 players, thought his team's fresh legs may have been the difference.
"This was like (New Bremen's) fourth game in eight or nine days," said Roessner. "We thought coming in if we could stay after them and use our depth it might be an advantage for us. We had quite a few turnovers early on but we felt that if we could clean that up and play our game we would come out alright."
Rachel Lefeld led all scorers with 14 points on a four-of-five performance from behind the three-point arc, and Heitkamp chipped in with 11. Otting paced the Cardinals with 13 points while Paul dropped in 10 markers and collected 12 rebounds.
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