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Friday, March 9th, 2012

Patriots edge Rangers in overtime

Division IV Girls Regional at Tipp City

By Gary R. Rasberry

New Knoxville's Gabbi Kuck, 22, penetrates to the basket against Tri-Villiage du. . .

TIPP CITY - For 36 minutes the New Knoxville and Tri-Village girls' basketball teams battled as if it were a 15-round prize fight.
Tri-Village, though, was able to score a 45-43 victory over New Knoxville in overtime during Thursday's Division IV regional semifinals at Tippecanoe High School.
The Patriots (24-1) will take 2011 D-IV state runner-up Fort Loramie on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. for a trip to the final four in Columbus. The Redskins defeated Shelby County foe Russia 54-32 in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader.
New Knoxville (21-4) was on top of its game early on, especially on the defensive end of the floor as the Rangers' Tiana Heidt accepted the challenge of trying to slow down Patriots' 2,000-point scorer Kayla Linkous. Heidt denied Linkous the ball and she began to get a little frustrated.
"New Knoxville is a great basketball team with a lot of size and, obviously, a very good basketball coach. They came in well-prepared. They knew what we would try to do," said Patriots' coach Brad Gray. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out, when you look at our roster and our average points and see K.J. (Linkous) get 26 points (per game), we're going to try and get it to her. They took that away from us early."
Stingy defense helped New Knoxville take an 18-10 lead midway through the second quarter, but Tri-Village charged back. The Rangers turned the ball over on a possession trying to stretch their lead into double digits and Tri-Village went on an 11-1 run to end the first half. A bucket by Lexie Bruner and a three-pointer by Shaye Thomas gave the Patriots the lead at 21-19 by halftime.
"That's the way it has been all year. We never want to put anyone away," said New Knoxville's head coach Tim Hegemier. "We had our chances and didn't do it. We let people hang around. Sometimes it's going to bite you."
"I thought the second quarter was our best quarter of basketball this year," said Gray. "I told the girls I was concerned. Early in the game, especially when we were down eight, I was 'Uh oh. This might be a long night for us.' "
A bucket to start the third quarter put the Patriots up four points at 23-19 for their largest lead of the game. New Knoxville quickly tied the game at 25-all and the lead see-sawed between the two teams for the rest of the game.
Late in the fourth quarter Linkous put the Patriots ahead 39-37 with 1:15 to go but New Knoxville tied the game with 50 seconds on the clock when Haley Dillon converted an offensive rebound into two points for the Rangers.
Tri-Village took the next 45 seconds trying to get the ball to Linkous, but the Rangers stole the ball with 0.5 seconds left in the game and Haley Horstman's three-point try was blocked as the game went into overtime.
"It was both teams throwing haymakers at each other," said Gray. "Neither one of us wanted this thing to end. You kidding me? You get here (regional), you want to fight your heart out."
Krystal Falknor got the overtime started right for the Patriots with a jumper just 25 seconds into the extra session. Tri-Village actually had the lead up to 43-39 before the Rangers came back with Horstman hitting a jumper and Gabbi Kuck getting a stickback with 45 seconds left to tie the score at 43-all.
The Patriots again worked the ball around looking for Linkous, but the Rangers fouled Thomas with 23.9 seconds to play in the game.
Thomas, who twice earlier in overtime missed the front end of one-and-one opportunities, made a pair of free throws to put Tri-Village up 45-43.
After a Rangers' timeout, Horstman's three-pointer was off the mark with Thomas grabbing the rebound and being fouled with 7.5 seconds on the clock. Thomas missed both free throws and Horstman rebounded the ball before Hegemier called timeout with 5.7 seconds left in the game.
Needing to go the length of the court, Horstman received the inbounds pass and quickly advanced the ball up the court. Horstman ended up in the lane for a game-tying attempt, but the shot was partially blocked to end the game.
"New Knoxville, with a freshman (Meg Reineke) and two sophomores (Horstman and Paige Lehman), they're going to be a team to be reckoned with (in the future)," said Gray. "They'll be back here. But we're a veteran team and it's our turn."
"Had some open looks. Just didn't drop," said Hegemier. "We had 3-4 of them go in and out. Just didn't drop. That's the game. Someone has to win, somebody's got to lose."
Linkous finished the game with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Falknor added nine.
Paige Lehman finished with 13 points to lead the Rangers while Heidt and Horstman each added 10 points.
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