Rangers Feed Off Turnovers On Senior Night

New Knoxville's Tayler Doty pressures
Sports Editor

When you’re struggling offensively, scoring in transitions off turnovers can sometimes act as a cure for shooting woes.

Those turnovers-turned-into-points medicine was exactly what the doctor ordered for New Knoxville.

After shooting 2-of-10 from the floor in the opening quarter of Thursday’s home finale and Midwest Athletic Conference game against Parkway, the Rangers scored 13 points off nine Panthers’ turnovers in the second quarter — outscoring the Rockford-based team 17-3 — as the Rangers pulled away with a 50-13 victory on senior night.

New Knoxville scored 30 of its 50 points off 31 Parkway turnovers on the night — including 24 of those points off 20 turnovers in the second and third quarters combined as the Rangers outscored the Panthers 33-7.

“We rely a lot on our defense,” Rangers coach Tim Hegemier said. “We are not shooting the ball well right now and that is something they are going to have to work out themselves.”

The Rangers (15-7, 5-4 MAC) actually trailed in the opening quarter, 4-2, but scored 15 straight points beginning at the 2:34 mark of the opening quarter on a layup and foul shot by Megan Jurosic to the 5:14 mark of the second quarter on a jump shot by Tasia Lauth.

A bucket in transition by Jacklyn Leffel gave the Rangers a 7-4 lead with 2:06 left and New Knoxville opened the second quarter scoring eight more points off turnovers — a jumper by Morgan Leffel, layup by Jurosic, and transition buckets by Tayler Dorty and Erin Scott before Lauth’s jump shot ended the Rangers’ run with a 17-4 lead at hand.

New Knoxville limited Parkway (3-19, 0-9) to just 2-of-8 shooting from the floor, forced 17 turnovers and scored 17 points off those turnovers to lead 24-7 at the half.

The Rangers opened the second half with four straight points on a pair of transition buckets by Doty and Morgan Leffel to push the lead to 28-7 50 seconds into the half. The Rangers’ biggest lead was 38-9 with 3:36 remaining in the third quarter as part of a 14-2 advantage. New Knoxville forced 11 more turnovers in the third quarter, scoring 11 points.

The Rangers end the regular season with wins in eight of their final 11 games and enjoyed a year that saw a team improve drastically from a 7-17 overall record and 0-9 mark in the conference to a year with the fourth-best conference record and a No. 2 seed in the Division IV sectional bracket.

“That’s what we shoot for, the middle of the pack,” Hegemier said. “Hopefully we can do something in the tournament."

Thursday was also senior night, honoring four seniors for New Knoxville in Scott, Lauth, Doty and Alicia Weadock. 

Those four players each played a role in the Rangers’ rebound season this year.

“They worked hard throughout the offseason and in season,” Hegemier said. “There were a couple of them that really didn’t get to play much, but they stuck in there and worked hard in practice.

“I can’t tell you enough about them.”

Next Wednesday’s Division IV sectional semifinal will be played at 6:15 p.m. at St. Marys Memorial High School. The winner of that game will play No. 3 seeded New Bremen Feb. 23.