SHELBY - Lauren Ladd said she wasn't expecting it.
Her coach, New Riegel's Steve Lucius, seemed about as surprised.
Neither expected the Blue Jackets to dominate like they did, or to win as easily as they did.
PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS
New Riegel’s Lauren Ladd chomps on her gold medal following her team’s district final demolition of South Central in Shelby on Saturday.
PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS
New Riegel’s Morgan Noftz (32) drives past South Central’s Desiree Killgore in the second half of Saturday night’s district final.
But against one-loss South Central, that's exactly what happened. New Riegel blew out the Trojans, 64-28 for the Division IV district championship.
"No, I did not," said Ladd, who battered South Central with 17 points and 11 rebounds. "I was expecting a really strong, dominant team."
On this night, that described New Riegel.
Just as they did two nights earlier here against Buckeye Central in the semis, the Blue Jackets jumped out to a big lead early. They forced the Trojans into six first-quarter turnovers, and converted four of their first five shots from the floor. When Taylor Kirian made two free throws with 4:25 left, the Blue Jackets had attained a 10-0 lead. They went on to lead 18-4 at the first stop, and 34-16 at the half.
"(Lucius) keys on starting strong, because in the past, we've kind of started out a little lazy," Ladd said. "He's been getting on us on getting out and being strong... so we come out and we just dominate."
Things got no better for the Trojans in the second half.
Using its press, New Riegel shut down South Central, which missed its first nine shots of the half, and didn't even score until just 13 seconds remained in the third period. The Blue Jackets won the quarter 14-2.
Here's an idea of how bad things had gone for the Trojans. At one point in the fourth quarter, the official stopped the game - for the second time in the half - because a South Central player's shoe was untied.
At that point, the Trojans had just four more points in the half than shoe-lace stoppages.
"We work hard on our pressure, I don't know if they've had too much pressure all year," Lucius said of South Central. "They're very athletic, but we were able to get in the passing lanes, get them east and west and cause some problem."
Lucius said it likely was the best game New Riegel (22-2) has played all year. Taylor Arbogast had 12 points and seven rebounds. Kara Scherger and Kirian had eight points each. Eight different NR players scored.
New Riegel won rebounding 36-17.
"Everybody played great," Lucius said. "Everyone who played played fantastic."
South Central (24-2) had just three players score. Anna Hintz had 16 points, while Summer Sweeting had seven.
"They're a great team," South Central coach Becky Hintz said of New Riegel. "We knew that coming in. We just ... our shots weren't falling. Just things weren't going our way."
The Trojans appeared in the district finals for the first time since 1998.
Lucius, on the other hand, is used to the districts, and the Elida regionals, where the Blue Jackets will play Carey Thursday in the semifinals.
"I think this is the fourth time in seven years we're heading to Elida," he said. "It never gets old. It's fantastic."