DAYTON — The first came less than three minutes into the game. The other came less than two minutes into the second half.
There were likely several defining moments in New Knoxville’s 39-28 victory over Cincinnati Country Day in a Division IV women’s basketball semifinal on Friday at the University of Dayton Arena.
But two stood out from the rest as Rangers (27-2) won to advance to today’s State Championship game against Waterford (25-3), who beat Buckeye Central 53-39 in the Friday’s other Division IV semi-final.
Cincinnati Country Day’s defining moment may have come when its leading scorer, Gracie Barnes, fell to the field with a hamstring injury after scoring her first field goal with 5:12 left in the first quarter. She continued to play but only scored five points after averaging 14.6 points per game for the season.
“It was pretty hard. I couldn’t get it out of my head, I was in pain and just focusing on the game. It was like all the way down my leg,” Barnes said.
The New Knoxville moment was much more positive. Rangers led 19-13 at halftime and had led all but 3½ minutes of the first half. But they only made 1 of 8 field goal attempts in the second quarter while beating Country Day 4-2 in a frustrating offensive performance for both teams.
Enter Ellie Gabel. Forty-six seconds into the second half, the senior 5-6 point guard hit a 3-pointer that caught a small ledge before passing. A minute later, she hit three more that only hit the net and New Knoxville was ahead 25-13.
His lead would not dip below 10 points for nearly nine minutes. Country Day cut the lead to six points with 3:55 left, but that was as close as it gets.
“My shots weren’t coming down early, so I was kind of happy for a rebound because I needed a little bit of confidence,” said Gabel, who is New Knoxville’s leading scorer with 13.9 points per match.
Country Day coach John Snell said: “It was pretty big, especially with us coming out of the locker room and talking about making sure we miss the 3 points. We just couldn’t get over it. It was very big.
“They treated us very well. It was a very good physical match. Generally we like this type of game because I think we excel at this type of game. But they did a really good job of getting us out of the type of game that we play,” he said.
Gabel led New Knoxville with 12 points. Carsyn Henschen scored 10 points and Avery Henschen had a game-high 11 rebounds.
Elizabeth Zimmerman’s nine points led Country Day (21-6), which held to a season-low 28 points. His previous low this season was 44 points.
“I think we played our defense really well to keep this team on so many points. It got a bit difficult at the end. We’ll have to work on that, but overall I’m very happy with my girls’ performance,” New Knoxville coach Tim Hegemier said.
Snell said: “You can tell they are very busy. Their guards are very good and strong. It was hard to derail them. I’ve seen games where I’m like, ‘OK, this is where we can exploit it and enjoy it’. But today not so much. They were right about some things we like to do. You could tell these guys were loaded with responsibilities and prepared for this today.
New Knoxville’s Avery Henschen tries to shoot against Cincinnati Country Day’s Daisy McClean, left, and Megan Zimmerman during Friday’s Division IV state semifinal at the University of Dayton Arena. See more high school basketball photos on LimaScores.com.
New Knoxville’s Haley Fledderjohann shoots against Cincinnati Country Day’s Megan Zimmerman during Friday’s Division IV state semifinal at University of Dayton Arena.
New Knoxville’s Melisa Waterman takes on Cincinnati Country Day’s Megan Zimmerman in Friday’s Division IV State Semifinals at the University of Dayton Arena.
New Knoxville’s Ellie Gabel shoots Cincinnati Country Day’s Daisy McClean, left, and Megan Zimmerman during Friday’s Division IV state semifinal at University of Dayton Arena.
New Knoxville’s Carsyn Henschen tries to shoot against Cincinnati Country Day’s Jada Moorman during Friday’s Division IV State Semifinals at the University of Dayton Arena.
Contact Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.