Rangers Snap MAC Losing Skid With Win Over Flyers

New Knoxville’s Morgan Leffel attempts a jump shot during a Midwest Athletic Conference girls basketball game against Marion Local on Thursday.
Sports Editor

Don’t look now, but the New Knoxville Rangers are a hot team and they did something on Thursday that they did not do all of last year — win a conference game.

Continuing their best start to a season since 2005-06, the Rangers broke open a close game in the third quarter to lead them to a 59-33 Midwest Athletic Conference-opening victory against Marion Local on Thursday.

Thursday’s victory also marked the first win in MAC play for New Knoxville since beating — ironically — Marion Local on Feb. 16, 2017.

The Rangers (5-0, 1-0, MAC) overcame a slow start in the first half — which involved leading-scorer Erin Scott hitting the bench after two first-quarter fouls — but ball movement and tenacious defense in the third quarter catapulted the Rangers in their home opener.

Leading 21-17 at the half, the Rangers sped past Marion Local (2-1, 0-1) for two quick baskets from Scott to Megan Jurosic as the center of the floor was open for the 5-foot-11 junior to take advantage by scoring eight points in the third quarter — 11 overall in that period.

Morgan Leffel had a bucket in transition after a Flyers’ miss and Rangers rebound. Scott then found Leffel following a Flyers’ turnover for a bucket and one and although Leffel missed the free throw, Tayler Doty grabbed the rebound, fed Scott, who finished it with a bucket for a 31-17 lead as part of a 10-0 run to open the third quarter with 6:17 remaining. 

The key of the game happened when his team scored on four straight Flyers’ turnovers later in the quarter. Leading 38-23 with 4:05 remaining, Marion Local turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions — with New Knoxville scoring on four of them with buckets by Jurosic, Scott, Tasia Lauth and Leffel to extend the lead to 46-23 at the end of three quarters.

Marion Local shot just 1-of-10 from the floor in the third quarter, compared to 11-of-14 for the Rangers, were outscored 25-6 by the Rangers and of the eight turnovers committed by the Flyers’ in the third stanza, the Rangers scored on five of them.

After that, it was a rout for the Rangers — who scored the most points in a game since scoring 60 points in a Division IV sectional semifinal win against Upper Scioto Valley last season.

But New Knoxville led just 10-9 after the first quarter, with Scott accounting for half of the Rangers’ points in the first 1:56 before being called with back-to-back fouls at the 4:34 mark. The Rangers, however, opened the second quarter with a 5-0 run — all courtesy of Jacklyn Leffel on a bucket and three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt.

The Flyers followed that up by tying the game at 15-15 on buckets from Kelsey Koenig and Natalie Rethman at the 2:41 mark, but the Rangers scored four of their final six points from the free throw line to lead 21-17 at the half. The Rangers shot 7-for-7 at the charity stripe — accounting for seven of their 11 points in the second quarter.

The Rangers shot 14-for-18 at the free throw line on Thursday.