Friday, February 19th, 2021

Rangers shut down Redskins' offense

By Dave Stilwell

New Knoxville's Avery Henschen (4) steals the ball away from St. Henry's Miranda. . .

NEW KNOXVILLE - After a bit of a slow start, New Knoxville found its rhythm and rolled to a 52-9 victory over St. Henry in the opening round of the girls Division IV sectional tournament Thursday night at the Barn.
The Rangers, seeded second in the Wapakoneta District, improved to 19-4 and will host 13th-seeded Upper Scioto Valley (1-16) in the sectional finals Saturday at 1 p.m.
Playing St. Henry for the second time in two weeks, New Knoxville struggled out of the gate, missing its first seven shots from the floor.
Alayna Ahlers hit a 3-pointer with 3:10 left in the first quarter to give St. Henry a 5-2 lead. The Rangers could only manage a couple free throws in the early going, and didn't make their first field goal until Morgan Leffel connected on a stick-back bucket with 2:44 left in the quarter.
"We hadn't played in a while with there being no school this week," New Knoxville coach Tim Hegemier said. "I thought we had some open shots there to start, but they just weren't dropping. They just needed a little time to get loose, and I was pleased with the way we played in the second and third quarters."
St. Henry opened in a 3-2 zone, which the Rangers seemed to struggle with early on.
"Yeah we tried to mix it up on them a little. They are a very good team," St. Henry coach Kyle Menchhofer said. "But when you don't make shots and they make shots, things can get difficult."
New Knoxville had prevailed 51-14 against the Redskins in a Midwest Athletic Conference game on Feb. 4.
"The last time we played them, they played us man-to-man the whole way, and I told the girls before the game, 'Don't be surprised if they come out in a zone,'" Hegemier said. "So I think it shook us up a little bit. And give St. Henry credit, every time we tried to get the ball inside, they had two or three girls on us."
The Rangers finished the first quarter with a 10-0 run to take a 12-5 lead.
St. Henry managed to stay within single digits, 16-7, with a bucket from Rileigh Baumer early in the second quarter. However, the Rangers would close out the first half with a 16-2 run to open up a 32-9 lead at halftime.
After a chilly first half from behind the arc, the Rangers heated up with four treys in the third quarter, including three from Ellie Gabel, who finished with a game-high 24 points. Leffel added 13 points and nine rebounds.
Turnovers, cold shooting and a running clock contributed to a scoreless second half for the Redskins.
St. Henry, which started three freshmen and a sophomore Thursday night, finished its season at 1-19.
"That's no excuse," Menchhofer said of his youthful squad. "You play with who you've got. We just have to work hard in the offseason and get better."
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