Rangers Rout Perry; Next up, New Bremen

New Knoxville’s Avery Henschen (40) battles through traffic as she looks to shoot the ball into the hoop during a Division IV sectional semifinal girls basketball game on Wednesday against Perry at Memorial High School.
Sports Editor

It was a good tune-up for the dogfight that awaits them on Saturday.

The New Knoxville Rangers enjoyed a 31-0 run in the first half to help them run away from Perry 51-19 in a Division IV sectional semifinal girls basketball match on Wednesday at Memorial High School. 

The Rangers (16-7) will face Midwest Athletic Conference foe New Bremen for a sectional championship at 6:15 p.m. Saturday.

New Knoxville actually trailed 4-0 to open the game, but a 3-pointer by Jacklyn Leffel got things started with 4:56 left and began the Rangers’ massive run. Megan Jurosic’s bucket gave the Rangers a 5-4 lead with 4:15 remaining in the opening quarter, but freshman Avery Henschen scored eight of the team’s next 11 points as Rangers coach Tim Hegemier gave her and other players time on the floor. 

“It has been like that the last three or four games, we have been trying to work her in just in case our shots got sour from the outside, she can get inside,” he said. “She has quick hands, quick reactions. She is a freshman and she is going to make mistakes, but she is all right.”

The freshman finished with a team-high nine points.

But scoring was spread throughout, with five Rangers scoring at least a bucket in the opening quarter and Erin Scott’s triple to begin the second quarter made her the sixth Ranger to connect on a field goal.

After missing their first three attempts, the Rangers finished 8-of-17 from the floor in the opening quarter, leading 18-4 after eight minutes.

New Knoxville pushed its lead to 31-4 with 1:17 remaining in the first half before Perry’s Lily Floyd’s two free throws with 1:00 left broke the scoring, but the Commodores did not connect on a field goal until the 1:34 mark of the third quarter on a Tia Barfield 3-pointer. At that point, New Knoxville had begun the running clock, which activates when there a 35-point differential in the second half of a postseason game.

To open the second half, New Knoxville connected on its first five shots, a 3-pointer by Scott, bucket by Morgan Leffel, bucket by Scott and another bucket by Leffel to go up 42-6 with 4:49 left in the quarter. 

Nine Rangers scored in the game, led by Henschen’s nine points and eight from Scott. Tasia Lauth and Tayler Doty both finished with seven points.

The Rangers will now have a rematch with the Cardinals — a team they lost 33-29 to on Dec. 13. New Bremen will be looking for its third straight sectional championship, while New Knoxville will be going for its first since 2014 when the Rangers beat Fort Recovery. That season, the Rangers were regional qualifiers.