Bucks, Warriors ousted from district tourney
By Aaron Korte
LEXINGTON - The Division IV Girls Basketball District Final is going to have a familiar feel to it as Colonel Crawford and Mansfield St. Peter will square off again Saturday as they did a year ago.
The Eagles got there Thursday night by defeating Mohawk, 52-43. In the early game, St. Peter thumped Buckeye Central, 58-37.
In the night cap, Colonel Crawford's Nickyla Garverick was the story of the game. She didn't come out of the game and for good reason. The 6-1 post had 24 points, four rebounds and two blocks.
"Nickyla really came into this game focused because she was sick last game," Colonel Crawford coach Amber Rall said.
Mohawk coach Josh Fortney said film doesn't cut it when it comes to Garverick.
"The Garverick girl had a nice game," Fortney said. "We knew what she did and we watched tape. We told the girls what they did but I don't think what we told them and what they watched did it justice on the floor when we were actually guarding her."
Where she did the bulk of her damage was at the line, where she was 12 of 13. In fact, the entire team damaged Mohawk at the line, making 22 of 28. The Eagles (17-5) didn't miss at the line until there was less than two minutes to go in the game, which turned out to be a critical juncture.
At that point, Colonel Crawford had made 15 straight free throws.
But a Sarah Runion 3-pointer, the last of her five on the night followed by a Erika Coldiron steal and Sarah Parker bucket cut the lead to 45-41 with 1:55 to go. Despite Colonel Crawford's success at the line thus far, Fortney was forced to go to the fouling strategy.
And it could have worked, too. The Eagles made 6 of 13 down the stretch but Mohawk managed just a pair of free throws from Lynsey Trusty the rest of the game, going 0 of 6 from the field.
"That was huge because foul shots will win games and that's what we needed to do tonight," Rall said. "The last two minutes, I think when we get tired, (our) foul shots change. But we won."
Colonel Crawford also owned the glass, 36-24, with a suprising leading rebounder: Krista Horning, a 5-7 guard who snared 13 rebounds.
"That was really huge for Krista. We really challenged her the last two games with her ACL being partially torn that 'Hey, the team goes as you go,'" Rall said. "She really stepped up, wasn't hesitent and really took care of the ball and got some rebounds."
Fortney pointed that out as one of the keys to the game.
"We got outrebounded, that's for sure," Fortney said. "If we rebound better and control the paint a little bit better, it would have been a different game. ... If we would have controlled the boards a little bit better on the defensive end and controlled the paint, we would have been fine."
Mohawk had the lead in the second half, midway through the third quarter. Trailing 31-24, Mohawk used a pair of turnovers and converted them to points in a three-possession run. A pair of Runion threes and a bucket by Trusty gave the Warriors (17-5) the lead, 32-31, with 4:25 to go.
But a 12-2 run that stretched into the fourth quarter put Colonel Crawford back in the driver's seat for good.
Runion finished with 17 points while Kasey Adelsperger and Sarah Parker each had nine. Mohawk's trademark 3-point shooting was absent as the Warriors were 5 of 23 from outside the arc.
"(Runion) was huge for them. We made adjustments and Krista did a really good job finding her defensively," Rall said. "But they have some real nice quick guards and we couldn't match up. ... We finally stepped up and got on their outside shooters."
Bailey Schott and Horning each had 12 points in the victory.
Fortney said the fell short of two of its three goals this year: an MAL title and a district final appearance.
"We set high expectations and high goals for ourselves," he said. "We made sure one of our goals was to make it to a district final, win an MAL championship and the school record for girls wins is 16 and we wanted to get 17. We got one of those. If we would have set lower goals for ourselves, we would have got them. We set pretty lofty goals for ourselves and expectations and we worked all summer to try to get those. We'll bump them up a little bit more this summer with everyone coming back.
"They know what we expect and they've got that feeling in their gut, as (assistant coach Bo) Trusty said, that knot in their stomach that they have right now. If that's not enough to push them this summer and the offseason to get going, I don't know what will. Hopefully this loss motivates them and we play these guys again next year."
Unlike the second game, Buckeye Central's chances of winning seemingly evaporated in the first quarter as the Spartans jumped on top 19-5. In fact, the Buckettes (12-11) got it no closer than 13 the rest of the game. St. Peter led 37-15 at half and 46-23 after three quarters.
"Missed opportunities. I thought we played a tough game. They're a solid team all around," Buckeye Central coach Sarah Krichbaum said. "They get out and run on you. They're good defensively, well coached, good fundamentals. You can't afford to have breakdowns and missed shots. But I'm proud of the effort."
St. Peter's star player is aptly named because she was a pain for Buckeye Central. Ranada Payne had 25 points, five steals and three assists in the victory. She was countered in the paint by Shabree Rawls, who had 16 points.
St. Peter coach Bill Tomsich, while happy with the win, was not thrilled with the rebounding margin, which Buckeye Central won 45-38. Hannah Heydinger had 11 rebounds to pace the Buckettes while Sara Schuerer had 15 for the Spartans (18-4).
"I know we won and I'm pleased that we won but our execution wasn't up to what we normally have been, especially over the last fourth of the season," Tomsich said. "One of the things I didn't think we did as well as we'll need to on Saturday is rebounding. They were beating us up on rebounding. We weren't fighting for position."
The Spartans made up for that with their quickness, coming up with 19 steals, part of a 32 turnover effort on the Buckettes.
"They forced a lot of turnovers with their quickness," Krichbaum said. "They get out and run transition. They're so powerful in their transition game. They do a good job of putting pressure on the guards and making them force turnovers, (like) bad passes overtop that were kind of panicky."
Tomsich said the goal was to take Maddie Ehresman out of the game with foul trouble. While she finished with nine points, she had her third foul by the four minute mark of the second quarter and her fourth just two and a half minutes into the third quarter.
"I think she's their best player on their team. They have some talent, not just her, but after she picked up her third, that was our goal," he said. "The whole set-up was for her to get her fourth because I knew she'd have to take her out and we did. I think that helped us also."
In Krichbaum's first year, the Bucks have achieved what she deemed unexpected results, with its first sectional title in a decade.
"The first time around we got beat by (34 points) and tonight we only got beat by (21) and while it's not a win, I thought the effort was great. I thought we got a lot of the shots that we wanted, especially out in our transition. We just couldn't finish. At this point of the season, you can't afford missed opportunities," Krichbaum said. "Getting a sectional championship is something I think these kids earned and worked hard for and improved all season to get to this point."
But it will be a whole lot of new faces next year as eight of the 11 varsity players: Maddie Ehresman, Morgan Weithman, Katie Martin, Sarah Alt, Heydinger, Michaela McKinniss, Taylor Hanes and Makayla Agin.
"I wish I could have had them longer. They're a great group of kids, a classy group of kids, a hard working group of kids," Krichbaum said. "When you come into a program and there's a bunch of seniors, as a coach, you think 'Oh boy.' They're probably used to someone else's philosophy. Right from the get-go, they welcomed my coaching philosophy, which was different and really excelled throughout the year. I'm so proud of the team they've become."