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Friday, February 28th, 2014
By Robb Hemmelgarn
Wildcats, Rangers cruise to semifinal wins
Division IV Girls Basketball District Semifinals
WAPAKONETA - The Minster Wildcats and New Knoxville Rangers left little doubt which teams were dominant in Thursday's Division IV District semifinals at Wapakoneta High School.
Both Nann Stechschulte and Tim Hegemier's clubs flexed their Midwest Athletic Conference muscles last night as the Rangers defeated the Ada Bulldogs 50-20, while the Wildcats shut the evening down with a 77-57 dismantling of the Upper Scioto Valley Rams in their respective semifinal encounters.
Minster (21-3) and New Knoxville (20-4) will face off for the second time this season in Saturday's District championship game at 7 p.m. The Wildcats beat the Rangers 54-42 in the teams' first meeting on Dec. 5
NEW KNOXVILLE 50, ADA 20
NEW KNOXVILLE 50, ADA 20
Ada head coach Neal Dumbaugh understood that to have any chance at pulling off a victory, his girls needed to contain three-time Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Year Haley Horstman.
Although the Bulldogs limited Horstman to a couple of points below her season average, they didn't count on Paige Lehman and Meg Reineke combining for 21 points. They also certainly didn't figure on countering with one field goal in the second half and just four for the entire game.
The Rangers set the tone early by scoring 12 of the game's first 14 points, but the Bulldogs finished the first period down with a 5-0 run to trim their deficit to 12-7.
With her team ahead 22-13 with less than a minute before halftime, freshman Kenzie Schroer scored her first bucket to push the Rangers up by 11 points. The two teams went to the locker room a few moments later with New Knoxville ahead 27-13, thanks to Horstman popping a three-pointer at the buzzer for her 11th point in the first half.
"We weren't looking inside enough in the first quarter and that was something we addressed," Hegemier explained. "We weren't patient enough reversing the ball or seeing the open person on the inside, but we did better in the second quarter. We were ahead and they were still sitting in a zone, so we brought it out and just wanted to take our time at that point."
A long ball by Reineke lit the flame to the second half and put the Rangers up 17, while Lehman closed the quarter down with a with a buzzer-beating, turn-around jumper in the paint to give the her team a 36-16 advantage. While New Knoxville methodically ballooned their lead with timely baskets, Ada smashed into an offensive wall as the only points they picked up in the third quarter were from the charity stripe. Their dry spell spilled into the final quarter, as the only shot they connected for didn't fall until the 1:07 point, but the Rangers had already held a 28 point lead by then before moving on to claim the 30-point triumph.
Horstman finished with 13 points, while Lehman piled up 12 points and Reineke nine points in the semifinal victory which bumped the Rangers to 20-4 overall.
UPPER SCIOTO VALLEY 57
UPPER SCIOTO VALLEY 57
While the night's first game was highlighted by New Knoxville's suffocating defense, the Wildcats capped off the doubleheader with their most remarkable offensive outburst of the season. '
As the final seconds dripped from the scoreboard, Stechschulte's girls hit nearly half of their 60 shot attempts for 77 points while four of her girls cleared double digits in the Wildcats' 21st win of the season.
"Offensively, we connected on a lot of shots tonight and were really in the zone," Stechschulte pointed out. "I will take 77 points and four girls in double-digits any night. We also played well offensively in transition and hopefully that is something we can continue."
Running and gunning was the theme of the opening few minutes, as both squads traded jabs at the onset of the first quarter before a 6-0 spurt gave the Wildcats a nine-point cushion which they held at the end of the first period at 17-8. The high-octane performance from both teams continued into the second quarter when the Wildcats notched 22 points to enjoy a 15-point command at intermission.
Minster extended its lead by two more points in the third quarter when they went up 56-39 as junior guard Mariah McKenzie shut the quarter down with a three-pointer and a free throw for four of her eight points on the night. The Wildcats and Rams continued to set the floor on fire in the closing period, as Minster tallied another 21 points while USV added 18 to their side of the scoreboard before the Wildcats coasted to the 20-point victory.
"Our defense was non-existent tonight," Stechschulte admitted. "We are going to have to do a much better job of moving our feet, playing defense, and rebounding on Saturday night or it is going to be a short postseason. It didn't seem like defense was a priority tonight and it will definitely be addressed tomorrow in practice and it needs to be better on Saturday."
Senior Kayla Richard paced the Wildcats with 17 points, hitting 7-of-8 field goal attempts. Lauren Roetgerman contributed 16 points, while Alexis Wuebker and Claire Fischer chalked up 15 and ten points respectively in the victory.
USV freshman Shelby Spradlin sliced the Wildcats' defense for a game-high 21 points. as they closed their campaign with a 14-9 overall record.
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