Monday, February 27th, 2012
Underdogs knock out seeded teams
Division IV Sectional at Coldwater
By Randy Bruns
Fort Recovery's Kelsey Fiely, 5, and Kelly Nietfeld, 40, show some emotion runni. . .
COLDWATER - For many years, the local Division IV girls' sectional basketball tournament was known as a graveyard for seeded teams, but the past three years had been relatively safe for the top seeds.
Not any longer.
A couple of big upsets took place on Saturday night as a pair of underdogs exacted revenge on their conference-mates that had beaten them during the regular season.
In the first game, Fort Recovery broke open a tight game in the second half with a strong defensive effort and the Indians defeated the Minster Wildcats 48-33.
The nightcap was a classic with a thrilling ending as the New Knoxville Rangers executed a perfect last-second drill to upend the Marion Local Flyers by a score of 49-48.
Both winners advance to the district semi-finals on Thursday at St. Marys. Fort Recovery (16-6) will take on the Upper Scioto Valley Rams in the opener at 6:15 p.m., while New Knoxville (19-3) faces the Ada Bulldogs in the second game.
Fort Recovery 48, Minster 33
Given that the Wildcats had knocked off the Indians by just six points in the regular season, everyone expected another tight contest.
For one half at least, those in attendance got what they anticipated, but after that it was all Indians.
Minster held the lead for almost the entire first half as it dominated the offensive boards and held Fort Recovery's three-point shooters to just one connection on eight attempts.
The Indians finally took a one-point lead late in the first half but Kayla Albers nailed a trifecta to start the third quarter to put the Wildcats back in front.
Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, those would be the last points they would score for over 12 minutes of game action.
The Indians got a trio of treys from three different players in the third quarter to help build a 12-point bulge going into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats then clamped down on defense but could not dent the scoreboard until Claire Fischer nailed a triple with just three and a half minutes left in the game.
By that point, Fort Recovery still held a 12-point advantage and it broke Minster's press on two consecutive trips for easy buckets that put the game out of reach.
"That third quarter is a mystery to me, I'll tell you that," commented Minster's coach Nann Stechschulte. "We hit the first shot to go ahead by two and then it was like we were in the desert in a drought that lasted 12 minutes. I told the girls that sometimes you just have to say that it wasn't meant to be."
The second-half shooting statistics tell the entire story in this one as the Indians shot a respectable 47 percent (9-of-19) while the Wildcats hit on just 17 percent (5-of-29).
"We haven't played that well in a while," stated Fort Recovery's coach Doug Bihn. "We just put it together at the right time. We know we've got it, but we've just got to get the effort out on the floor and we haven't been real consistent doing that this season. All during this week of practice the kids believed, and more than anything else, it's not a physical thing for us, it's a mental thing."
Kelsey Fiely and Olivia Schwieterman led a balanced Fort Recovery scoring attack with 10 points apiece while Fischer's 9 points paced Minster.
New Knoxville 49, Marion Local 48
Two years ago the Flyers eliminated the Rangers from the sectional tournament with a buzzer-beater, but this year the tables were turned.
New Knoxville led for most of the night and still maintained a three-point lead with one minute left in the game, but some poor free-throw shooting gave Marion an opening.
After making seven of their first eight from the charity stripe, the Rangers missed three consecutive one-and-bonus opportunities down the stretch to give the Flyers a chance. Allie Thobe got the Flyers to within one point on a stickback and Margaret Wuebker later drove the lane and was fouled with six seconds left on the clock.
The senior calmly sank both freebies to give Marion a 48-47 lead and New Knoxville took a timeout to plot its strategy.
Coach Tim Hegemier's play worked to perfection as Meg Reineke took a pass at halfcourt and found Paige Lehman wide open under the bucket. The sophomore calmly made the bunny as the clock ticked to zero to send the Ranger faithful into hysteria.
"We had practice this afternoon and we went over all the (late game) scenarios because I wanted to cover my butt," said Hegemier. "I knew (Marion coach) Treva (Fortkamp) wasn't going to let (Haley) Horstman get the ball because she was playing real well tonight. Paige was open and thank God she made the bunny shot."
Horstman, who torched the Flyers for 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting, was indeed on Fortkamp's mind before and after the contest.
"We would have stolen (the game) because we had no answer for Haley Horstman," sighed Fortkamp. "She just kicked our butts. We talked about voting for the MAC on the way here and I said I voted for her as the top player and she absolutely proved it tonight."
Hegemier was also full of praise for his sophomore point guard.
"I thought Haley played the best game of her life tonight," said Hegemier. "She's capable of that and she's shooting 56 percent from the field. I said 'You've got to shoot, girl', and once she starts believing in herself she's going to be tough to stop."
Lehman joined Horstman in double digits with 10 points while Chelsea Winner led the Flyers with 16 points with Thobe adding 11.