Rangers Snap Cardinals’ Streak

New Knoxville’s Ellie Gabel drives in for a layup with New Bremen’s Kaylee Freund and Kira Bertke defend her during a Midwest Athletic Conference girls basketball game on Thursday.
Staff Writer

Defense was going to be the key.

Cardinal sophomore Kaylee Freund entered Thursday’s game averaging 19 points per game and was a big reason behind her team’s undefeated record.

The Rangers were coming off a game during which they struggled to guard a strong Fort Loramie squad, but was looking to protect its home court.

Advantage Rangers. Cardinal streak snapped.

A defensive battle forced poor shooting percentages for both teams, but an edge in rebounding and a near flawless effort from the free-throw line propelled the New Knoxville High School girls basketball team to a 34-26 victory over the New Bremen Cardinals in Midwest Athletic Conference play.

“Both teams played good defense,” said NBHS coach Chris Burden, whose team suffered its first loss of the season. “Both teams know one another very well. We knew that coming in every possession (was) going to matter whether it’s on offense or the defensive end.

“Whoever executed the best is the one that’s going to win tonight and that’s what happened.”

New Knoxville coach Tim Hegemier agreed.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” he said. 

Consecutive baskets from New Bremen’s Madison Cordonnier gave the Cardinals (5-1, 1-1 MAC) a 12-8 nearing the midway point of the second quarter, but the Rangers scored the next seven points — sandwiched around halftime — to take a lead it never relinquished.

Morgan Leffel made a pair of free throws with 2:55 before half, and Haley Fledderjohan drove the left baseline to the basket for a game-tying layup on the Rangers’ next possession at the 2:12 mark. 

Jacklyn Leffel then drained a 3-pointer from the right wing on a Fledderjohan assist following a Cardinal turnover, and the Rangers (4-4, 1-1) went into the break ahead 15-12.

Ellie Gabel made two free throws early in the third period to cap the run, and after a Cordonnier trey cut the deficit to 17-15, that’s as close as the Cardinals got the rest of the way.

Leffel hit another three, and Morgan Leffel had her final two points by driving to the hoop for a basket.

Two more free throws from Jacklyn Leffel gave New Knoxville a 34-23, the largest for either team, with 2:42 to play.

The Rangers, meanwhile, were 10-of-12 (83.3 percent) from the stripe — Gabel was 5-of-6 in the second half — and had a worse shooting percentage than the Cardinals.

Hegemier had challenged his team to take better care of the basketball and be more aggressive grabbing rebounds following its 60-26 loss Thursday to Fort Loramie.

In response to his wishes, the Rangers gave the ball away just six times, pulled down seven offensive rebounds and only allowed six offensive boards to the Cardinals.

Megan Jurosic was a big reason for those as she hauled in a game-high 14, including three on offense.

“Every time she goes in there, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing, she’s getting double teamed so its tough on her,” Hegemier said. Jurosic shot 3-for-9 but was that force getting rebounds. “She’s starting to get the hang of it that if she’s double teamed she kicks it right away. She’s just got to finish a couple more shots inside.”

To read the full story, see Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.