Friday, March 4th, 2011
By Randy Bruns
Wildcats, Rangers ready for rematch
Division III District at Van Wert
  VAN WERT - The Midwest Athletic Conference ruled the court on Thursday night at the Cougar Den, as a pair of local teams moved on in the Division IV district semifinals.
The Minster Wildcats used a decisive height advantage and a smothering defense in Thursday's opening game to stifle the Waynesfield-Goshen Tigers by a score of 61-44.
The second game was much like the first, except at a slower pace. The New Knoxville Rangers methodically picked apart the Upper Scioto Valley Rams to build a 25-point cushion before settling for a 51-36 victory.
Minster, now 20-2, and New Knoxville (17-5) will tangle for the second time this year in Saturday's district final at 7 p.m. with the right to move on to the regional tournament in Springfield at stake. Minster won the regular-season meeting on Feb. 10 by a score of 32-26.
Waynesfield and Upper Scioto Valley bow out of the tournament with records of 19-4 and 16-5.
Minster 61, Waynesfield Goshen 44
A quick look at the starting lineups made it clear that the Wildcats would be well served to get the ball inside, and that's what they did with regularity.
Newly crowned Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Delanie Wolf scored the first six points for Minster, and all of them came in the paint over smaller defenders. The score was tied with three minutes left in the first frame, but the Wildcats's Tara Clune and Erica Fullenkamp scored in the post to help Minster to a 12-6 lead.
The theme continued in the second quarter, but this time Kayla Wuebker was the beneficiary of the inside-centric scheme. The junior drove the lane for the first two buckets of the frame and scored four more points before halftime to stake the Wildcats to a 27-16 lead at the break.
The only thing holding the Wildcats back in the first half was errant three-point shots, as they were 1-for-7 (14 percent) from behind the arc but 11-for-17 (65 percent) from two-point range.
"That was one of the things we wanted to do," explained Minster coach Nann Stechschulte of her team's strategy of getting the ball inside. "When you're bigger than another team you need to take advantage of it."
Minster wasted little time in building an even larger lead in the second half, as it went on an 8-1 run to assemble a 40-21 advantage. The Tigers pulled within 14 points midway through the final frame, but that was as close as they could get.
Even with the victory, Stechschulte saw plenty of imperfections for her team to work on.
"We didn't play great defense, we didn't take care of the ball, and we didn't shoot real well," said Stechschulte. "But we still played good enough to win, so I guess I need to be happy with that."
Wolf scored a game-high 16 points on an 8-for-10 effort from the field, and she was joined in double digits by Wuebker with 12 and Fullenkamp with 11.
New Knoxville 51, Upper Scioto Valley 36
These two squads met up six weeks ago with the Rangers taking a 56-41 decision over the Rams, and Thursday night's game played out in much the same manner.
The Rangers came in with a pair of freshmen starters, but if there were any nerves present they weren't noticeable, as Haley Horstman ran the point to perfection and Paige Lehman was her usual physical inside presence.
"I was a little concerned with playing two freshmen in the tournament and how they would respond," said New Knoxville coach Tim Hegemier. "But when they come in here in the district and pretty well dominate, well, I'm pretty happy."
Lehman scored the first four points for the Rangers before senior Taylor Elshoff tossed in five markers of her own. Horstman then turned a steal into a layup to give her team an early 11-4 advantage.
Haley Dillon got into the scoring act in the second period, as the junior canned a trio of jumpers to help the Rangers build their lead to 11 points at halftime.
Not much changed for either team in the second half, as the Rangers continued to get the ball inside for good looks at the bucket while the Rams had to settle for outside shots.
New Knoxville built its bulge to 51-26 halfway through the final frame before USV's bench players scored the final 10 points of the game.
The Rangers hit on exactly half of their shots (21-of-42) in the game while the Rams made only 32 percent.
"We didn't shoot the ball real well in the first quarter, and I'm not sure why," said Hegemier. "But I think our defense pretty well explains why we won the game."
Lehman led a balanced Rangers' attack with 14 points, while Tiana Heidt chipped in with 10.
With another matchup against Minster looming, Hegemier is pretty sure what to expect.
"Minster's a very, very good team," complimented Hegemier. "They've got experienced ball players and they've been there before. We're just going to try to give it our best shot."
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