It wasn’t anything flashy.
But New Knoxville hasn’t won 17 games by being flashy.
The methodical Rangers did what they had to and held off the Wapakoneta Redskins for a 38-30 win in a non-league varsity girls basketball game Tuesday night at Wapakoneta High School.
New Knoxville ended its regular season at 17-3. Wapak is 10-9 and has a Western Buckeye League game Thursday at Shawnee remaining.
Perhaps no quarter typified the New Knoxville approach better than the fourth.
After Wapak sophomore Sara Warner connected on a 3-pointer to cut the Rangers’ lead to 37-30 with 6:12 to play, New Knoxville varsity coach Tim Hegemier called a timeout.
The Rangers took the air out of the ball the rest of the game, working the ball around the perimeter for almost two minutes at a time.
They attempted just two field goals in the final eight minutes of the game, missing both. A Paige Lehman free throw was their only point of the quarter.
Warner’s three would be the only points Wapak would score in the quarter.
“They played very well defensively,” Redskins varsity coach Rusty Allen said. “We were there. I don’t think we played a bad game. That’s just a very good ball club.”
New Knoxville led almost the entire game. The Rangers took a 2-0 lead on an Ashley Huston transition layup. Wapak tied it up on a basket by senior Tasha Helmstetter. But Lehman put back her own miss at the other end to hand the lead back to New Knoxville, a lead it would not relinquish.
The Redskins managed to push the tempo in the second quarter. They scored 16 points but gave up 16 points as well.
“We’ve only got six or seven girls playing,” Hegemier said. “So we really don’t want to get into a run-and-gun like we did in the first half.”
Wapak hung with the Rangers the entire game.
The Rangers led by no more than five points in the first quarter and seven in the second. The Redskins cut the lead to two points, 29-27, early in the third. But New Knoxville went on an 8-0 run to close the quarter with a 37-27 lead, holding Wapak scoreless over the final 5:59 of the third.
“We just couldn’t get a couple shots to fall when we needed to,” Allen said.
New Knoxville took the Redskins out of their offense, eliminating the penetrate-and-kick-out-for-the-three attack.
“They hit three or four of them in the first half,” Hegemier said. “I told them at halftime, ‘We’re going to have to do a better job. Get a hand high on them. Talk.’
“I knew what they were trying to do. They were trying to dribble drive and kick and help. I said, ‘No more of that. Take care of your own person, switch on the picks and play defense.’”
Warner connected on four 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 14 points. The next two top scorers for Wapak were seniors Tasha Helmstetter and Courtney Knippen with four points apiece.
Three-point ace Nicole Brown attempted just two 3-pointers, making one.
“I think that was a key tonight,” Allen said. “We just couldn’t get into that flow, offensively, that we wanted to. They did a nice job of taking away Nicole. I think Sara stepped up big for us. ... They did a nice job smothering us out there on the perimeter.”
Tiana Heidt scored 12 points to lead New Knoxville. Haley Horstman added 10 points. And Lehman finished with nine.
Wapak won the junior varsity contest 50-28.
Erin Schnell led the Redskins with 22 points on 8-of-10 from the floor and 5-of-7 from the free throw line. Megan Watt added 10 points.
Caitlin Magoto led the Rangers with 21 points.
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