Kenton Ridge head coach Ed Foulk pleased with surprise season, effort.
SPRINGFIELD — When it came to the Division II Regional Finals on Friday night at Springfield High School with Alter and Kenton Ridge, “size did matter”. 2nd ranked Alter had a lot of it and Kenton Ridge had none of it, and that was the difference in Alter’s 65-48 victory. The victory sends the Lady Knights to the state semifinals versus Toledo Rogers next Thursday at 1:00 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at The Ohio State University.
The longer Knights more than doubled the tiny, but scrappy Cougars on the boards and time after time, Alter would get easy put-backs just by being taller. Veteran Kenton Ridge head coach Ed Foulk realized early on that their size disadvantage was costly, “That (their size) was the game,” said Foulk, “We struggled against their size, and they are talented. But they could be short and they’d still be good.”
Alter co-head coach Chris Hart wanted to exploit the size differential whenever possible. “I think we were able to wear them down and we were just able to take advantage of our size,” said Hart, who has her team back in the Final Four for the fifth time since 2002.
After an early 5-5 tie, Alter went on a 10-0 run with just over 3 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The Cougars scrapped back and tied the score at 15 inside the last minute of the first period. Alter led 17-15 after one quarter.
Alter doubled up KR 14-7 in the second period leading 31-22 at the half. Many of those points coming at the hands of the fast break. The bigger Knights were beating the quicker Cougars down the floor in transition, which was something that played right into the hands of Hart’s strategy, “We’re kind of two similar teams when it comes to that, we like to get up and down the floor.”
Alter continued to hit the offensive boards in the second half, leading 50-36 after three periods until Kenton Ridge finally waived the white flag in the waning minutes.
Emma Bockrath had a double-double for Alter (28-0) posting unofficially 14 points and 14 rebounds. Maddie Bazelak had ten of her 14 points in the first half. Freshman point guard Braxtin Miller finished with 12 points and Kara Bockrath contributed eleven points and eight boards, again unofficially.
For 7th ranked Kenton Ridge (26-2) Bailey Bennett kept them close with 12 of her team’s 22 first half points. She finished with a game-high 18 points on the evening.
Foulk was pleased this team overachieved beyond his expectations this season,” I was hoping to get 14 wins this year,” explained Foulk. “Two years ago we lost two Division I players, last year we lost two of our top players. It seems like every year we lose two or three of them.”
He didn’t know what he had in this team at the start of the year, “This team was a surprise, they came on, they played well together,” continued Foulk. “They basically did what it took to win.”
Foulk reflected on the accomplishments of the season. “We beat Carroll, beat McNicholas, I think we have lost in nine district finals since we last went to the state in 1995, this is 2014, that’s a long time,” joked Foulk.
The Cougars graduate starting guards Sara Thornton and Stefanie Davis.
Hart knows the win is a big deal, but was able to allow herself to look ahead to their match-up with Rogers, “I’m happy for the kids. They’ll understand later down the road how special of thing this is (going to the state semifinals),” said Hart.
“Rogers is loaded, they have a lot of nice players. We will have our work cut out for us. But we’re going to enjoy this one tonight.” said Hart.