Jackets pull away from?Royals

NEW RIEGEL – A lot of the people at New Riegel Saturday afternoon were breaking a sweat. It wasn’t just the players, but the fans running back and forth between the gymnasium and the lobby where the Ohio State-Michigan football game was being shown.

In the lobby they saw a team break open a close game at halftime, only to hold on down the stretch.

In the gym, they saw pretty much the same thing.

Holding a one point lead at the break, New Riegel outscored Wynford 15-2 in the third, then held off a late Royal rally for a 61-51 victory.

New Riegel improves to 3-0, but after two relatively easy wins to start the season, Saturday’s game was a step up in competition

“It’s a real nice win against a high quality team,” New Riegel coach Steve Lucius said. “Last year we went down there and they beat us, so this feels really good. Our kids keyed in on these guys and they followed the game plan, did a great job today.”

New Riegel’s third quarter went a long way in deciding the game. The Blue Jackets came out of the locker room with a slim 24-23 advantage but pulled away thanks in part to an improved defensive effort.

Wynford hit 10 3-pointers, but missed on all six of its attempts in the third and was a total 1 for 13 from the field.

“We knew who their shooters were by that time,” New Riegel’s Taylor Kirian said. “We knew which players we had to key on and just stepping out to them. We changed our defense so we had more people outside on their shooters.”

“We switched defenses, went to something different to try to give them a different look. It kind of worked so we stayed with it the entire second half,” Lucius added. “Offensively, we kind off struggled a little bit the entire game, we handled their pressure. We built that lead, then hung on. It wasn’t pretty at the end, but we hung on, made foul shots.”

Wynford coach Amy Sheldon said the reasons for the poor scoring output was more than just a simple cold stretch.

“We only scored two points in the third quarter,” she said. “It’s hard to keep up with a team that is so aggressive, even in the zone, gets out in passing lanes, gets after you, rebounds the ball. They had a lot of offensive rebounds. They gave themselves twice as many possessions. When we’re turning the ball over and they have twice as many possessions, that definitely digs yourself a hole.

“I think we tried to be a little more patient on offense and had some good looks but they didn’t fall. We didn’t have any offensive rebounds either,” she said. “They were scrappy and got after it and wore us down a little bit with constant pressure. They definitely earned the win.”

Kara Scherger opened the fourth quarter with a basket for New Riegel for a 41-25 lead. But then Wynford started to heat up.

Meghan Harrer hit three 3-pointers and poured in 14 of her game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter. KarLee Schiefer also knocked down a pair of trifectas as Wynford clawed within five at 51-46.

Kirian converted an and-1 play for New Riegel to give her team some more separation.

She posted a double-double, leading her team with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Scherger finished with 17 points and Lauren Ladd had 13. Taylor Arbogast finished with nine points and six rebounds.

“I think inside and outside, once you find it, you just keep going at it,” Kirian said of her team’s offense. “We just kept building off each other. When one person does something good, it’s easier for everyone else to do something good.”

New Riegel wasn’t out of the woods yet, though, as Harrer knocked down a 3 to cut the lead back to five.

However, New Riegel hit five of its next six from the foul line, and Ladd added a bucket to ice the game.

The season is just over a week old, but it’s never too early for a big win. In staying unbeaten, the Blue Jackets picked up a victory over a team that won a Division III district title last year.

“This is our first big game of the year, so it’s nice to win,” Kirian said.