A change in the order, the new Knoxville brings down the cathedral – Press Pros Magazine

Sonny Coots

Chief Editor

Sonny Fulks graduated from Ohio State University where he pitched four college seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 to 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League. (AA) and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites and for the past fourteen years has been a columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, amateur baseball support, the outdoors, and he holds a music degree from Ohio State University.

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In the end, the scores reflected defense and averages. In between, New Knoxville flexed its muscles as a leader in the race for the MAC women’s crown, and a change in the order of things, with a convincing victory over Minster.

Minster, Oh- Minster’s coach Mike Wiss no doubt deduced the irony – that his two-time state champion Wildcats, for so long “hunted” among MAC women’s basketball, are in a position to be the “pursuers” Thursday evening. The Wildcats came up against the league-leading New Knoxville Rangers, who turned the tide by beating Minster, 36-23.

With the win, New Knoxville improved to 13-1, 5-0 in the league and took a one-game lead over Minster, New Bremen and Marion Local, all three now 4-1 in MAC play. .

There were a few ironies, in fact, that baffled Minster throughout.

First, the New Knoxville defense was reminiscent of the way Minster plays — how Minster played on his way to back-to-back Division IV titles in 2018 and 2019 — creating turnovers and denying Minster a good look at the rim. The ‘Cats finished with 24 shots at the rim for the game and had 23 turnovers.

Second, at their best over the past decade, Minster has always had the senior leadership so important to a winning basketball culture. Thursday, among his five starters, Mike Wiss had only one senior post player Ella Mescher. All five New Knoxville starters were seniors, including members of the 2021 Division IV champion Rangers volleyball team.

“Seniors make all the difference,” said Knoxville interim coach Matt Gabel, replacing Tim Hegemier, who was sick and at home. “They’ve been used to winning since the volleyball season, they never give up when things don’t go their way, and we also like to rely on our defense a bit.”

Minster’s Lilly Barhorst struggles to score two of her 6 points on New Knoxville defender Avery Henschen.

And they did on Thursday, holding Minster to just 7 points in the first quarter (11-7) and 9 points in the first half (20-9).

“But,” said Mike Wiss of Minster, “both teams pretty much held each other at the average points they gave up. We had teams in their 30s and they gave up about 23 points per game.”

But you couldn’t help but recognize the senior difference, as Avery Henschen and Ellie Gabel of Knoxville demonstrated, both finishing with 14 points and representing 28 of the Rangers’ 36.

“Minster has a good team and a great program, and it’s been that way for twenty years,” Gabel added. “They fould early on, we put pressure on them and I told Mike what kind of game I thought it would be when we arrived tonight. It turned out to be a fight and I’m happy to have won.

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New Knoxville’s defense was baffling for Minster, creating 23 turnovers, with the larger, more experienced Rangers causing the ‘Cats to falter and play without their usual instincts. This created fertile ground for turnovers which, while not directly leading to points for Rangers, cost Minster valuable scoring opportunities themselves.

“They turned out to be the team we thought they would be,” Wiss said, imitating former Minnesota Vikings coach Denny Green’s famous quote. “They played well in the man-to-man half court, their hands are still in the passing lanes, and that obviously frustrated us. Our inexperience was obvious and we just need to get to know each other better, as there were times when we didn’t seem to know what the other was going to do.

Minster’s Katie McClurg (#4) battles for a turnaround with New Knoxville in Thursday’s 36-23 loss to Rangers.

For the past four years, Ivy Wolf knew exactly where the other four were on the ground and what they were going to do. Wolf averages 20 points, of course, and Janae Hoying has always been his reliable first option. Wolf is now playing and averaging 11 points per game at the University of Miami, and Hoying is at the University of Findlay.

“It’s the love of a teammate that is so important no matter what sport you play,” added Wiss. “It’s about knowing what your buddy is going to do all the time. But having 23 turnovers, scoring 23 points and only having 24 shots…and we had zero transition points. The way they played was a mirror image of the way we played. We couldn’t do it tonight.

“Things are changing and the wheel keeps turning. It’s been our turn for a long time, and we were very lucky. And I told the girls afterwards that we played a really good basketball team tonight. But give me five possessions out of those 23 turnovers, which ended up in our hands and not someone else’s, and I’m fine. They played half-court defense…and we had 23 turnovers. They didn’t rush us. It disappoints me.

Henschen and Gabel each had 14 points to lead all scorers, while Carsyn Henschen and Melisa Waterman had 3 points apiece. Haley Fledderjohann finished with 2 points for New Knoxville.

For Minster Kaycie Albers led with 10 points, Lilly Barhorst had 6, Katie McClurg finished with 5 and Ella Mescher had 2.

Minster, Marion Local and New Bremen are all 4-1 in the league, but New Knoxville (5-0) took a big step Thursday in their pursuit of the MAC regular season title. Rangers now possess wins over Marion and Minster, and have yet to face New Bremen.

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