By MATT NYE
SHELBY — Getting off to a fast start can relax a team, especially in postseason play.
New Riegel blitzed Buckeye Central Thursday night after it raced out to a commanding 20-3 lead through one quarter. The Blue Jackets coasted the rest of the way for a 55-32 victory in a Division IV district semifinal.
New Riegel (21-2) will face South Central (24-1) Saturday at 7 p.m. for the district championship. The Trojans edged Tiffin Calvert 65-62 in the night’s first semifinal.
New Riegel shared the ball and got good looks at the basket as four players scored in double figures. Taylor Arbogast led the way with 14 points, while Kara Scherger and Taylor Kirian had 12 points apiece and Lauren Ladd finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Buckeye Central (11-14) tried to stifle New Riegel’s offense with a mixture of zone defenses, but the experienced Blue Jackets ran their offense and got anything they wanted offensively.
“We had a good first half,” New Riegel coach Steve Lucius said. “They (Buckeye Central) are a young team and we’ve got a pretty veteran crew, so we wanted to come out and put a lot of pressure on them. We were aggressive from the start and I thought we did a good job with our press. We caused some turnovers, which then got us some good offensive looks. We knocked down some outside shots early and hit some inside shots as well, so it was a heck of a start, exactly what we were looking for.”
Scherger set the pace of the contest in the first minute with a corner 3-pointer, and the Blue Jackets’ lead ballooned from there. Arbogast got to work early as well with eight first-quarter points.
“We worked really hard on reversing the ball this week,” Lucius said. “We worked on our post entries a lot because we have some veterans inside and they can do some damage, so that was a point of emphasis this week. We did a nice job of boxing out for the most part tonight, but in the second half they (Buckeye Central) played a lot better. It also was an opportunity to give some of our kids some playing time in a semifinal game and also give some of our kids rest for Saturday night.”
The Bucks didn’t score their first basket until the 1:23 mark in the first period on a Kilee Kimmel 3-pointer.
The Blue Jackets extended their lead to 26-3 in the early minutes of the second quarter as their full-court pressure and 2-3 zone wreaked havoc on the Bucks. Kirian put in six points in the second period for New Riegel, which went into halftime with a 35-11 lead.
“We have some stuff to work on, but I am very proud of this team,” Buckeye Central coach Greg Moore said. “We only won four games last year and for us to come away with 11 wins and get to the District Tournament was great. I will just miss our two seniors, Brooke (Karl) and Kilee, because they are great kids and they won’t be easily replaced. I am proud of where our program has come from, especially from a four-win season a year ago. I am not upset with this team in the least and I wish Steve all the luck because he has a great ball club.”
The Bucks never fully rebounded from the lopsided first half, though they outscored the Blue Jackets 21-20 in the last two periods.
New Riegel was outrebounded 24-21, but it did force 17 turnovers that led to many easy looks in the first half.
Kimmel led Buckeye Central with 12 points, while Hailey Hildebrand chipped in eight points and Emily Weithman pulled down five rebounds.
NOTE: Tickets for the district championship game will be available in the office at New Riegel Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon.
BUCKEYE CENTRAL (32)
Green 1-0–2, Hildebrand 4-0–8, Fagin 0-2–2, Kimmel 2-6–12, Heydinger 0-0–0, Weithman 1-0–2, Biglin 0-0–0, Wurm 0-0–0, Delarber 1-0–2. TOTALS: 11 8-8 — 32.
new riegel (55)
Bouillon 0-0–0, La. Zoeller 0-0–0, Arbogast 6-2–14, Kirian 5-2–12, E. Theis 0-0–0, Scherger 4-1–12, Ladd 5-1–11, H. Theis 1-0–2, Mathias 0-0–0, Noftz 1-0–2, Reinhart 1-0–2. TOTALS: 23 6-8 — 55.
Buckeye Central 3 8 9 12 — 32
New Riegel 20 15 12 8 — 55
3-Point GOALS: Buckeye Central 2 (Kimmel 2); New Riegel 3 (Scherger 3).
REBOUNDS: Buckeye Central 24 (Weithman 5); New Riegel 21 (Ladd 8).
TURNOVERS: Buckeye Central 17; New Riegel 5.
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