Defense, Rebounding Leads Minster To Finals

Minster's Courtney Prenger drives to the basket in the first quarter in a Division IV state semifinal against Waterford on Thursday.
Sports Editor

It’s a rematch Ottoville wants and it’s a rematch Minster does not mind having, because its means rematch in the state’s biggest game.

The Minster Wildcats are one game away from hoisting the school’s 33rd state title and the third such title during this current school year after taking down top-ranked Waterford, 46-31 in the second of two semifinal games Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

“On behalf of Minster, that was quite a ball game defensively by us,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “Three things we started the game with, first of all was to be able to keep them in front of us because we knew how good they are when they put the ball on the floor. Second of all, to be able to keep your knees down and have a high hand on defense which was to take away their outside shooting and to rebound the dickens out of the basketball.
“I am very happy with effort our girls gave.”

Minster’s win sets up a date with the Big Green (27-2) — who handled Buckeye Central (26-2) in the first semifinal, 44-25 — at 10:45 a.m. Saturday in the Division IV state final.

The Wildcats defeated the Big Green 55-54 in a non-conference affair at Minster Elementary School on Jan. 20.

“I had people from Minster tell me that people from Ottoville — it was a back-and-forth game and we were fortunate enough to come out on top — but they made the comment that they wanted to see that team (Minster) again and again was only going to be in one place, and that is where we are at.”

The Wildcats (25-3) never trailed in Thursday’s semifinal as Minster opened the game with an 11-6 lead, on four points each from Taylor Kogge and Courtney Prenger as the 6-foot-2 posts settled in against Waterford’s (26-2) pair of All-Ohio selections in Alli Kern and Megan Ball.

“We just do a great job of working inside-out, that’s the Minster offense, and we really executed on that today for sure,” Prenger said.

Minster pushed its lead to 10, 20-10, in the opening minutes of the second quarter on an 8-2 run — four of those from Prenger as the junior star finished the first half with eight points and three rebounds to lead Minster to a 35-16 halftime lead.

While Minster’s post play was solid on the offensive end in the first half, the Wildcats post play on defense was even better, limiting Waterford to just two offensive boards in the first half and three for the game.
Waterford came in averaging 15.9 boards per game and its core players Kern and Ball combined for 12 points and four rebounds at the half, while both players average 28 points and 13 rebounds per game.

”The last time they played, Alli Kern had 17 points and 19 rebounds,” Wiss said. “And the last two games Minster played, we played against very good rebounding teams. Fort Loramie is active like the dickens on the boards and we gave them two offensive rebounds and tonight, one of our goals was to keep them off the board because they crash it so hard, and we limited them three offensive rebounds.
“We have two very athletic post girls. We got to a bunch of 50-50 balls and I am very proud of them.”

Minster weathered Waterford’s attack in the middle of the third quarter as the team from Washington County used a 7-4 advantage, with a bucket from Ball with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter, to pull Waterford to within six, 29-23 — the closest score in the second half.

“We called timeout there just to make sure we were focused, and it happened twice in the third quarter where we were not matched up right,” Wiss said. “… A team with Kern and Ball and (Rachael) Adams out there, they can take advantage of those things and they scored those buckets because of matchups.”

Nevertheless, it was the closest Waterford got.

Minster limited Waterford — who averages 41.5 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter of games — to 12.5 percent (1-of-8) after Ball’s bucket as Minster outscored Waterford 17-8 for the final 11:23 of the game.
Kern finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, followed by six points by Ball — but just two points in the second half.