MINSTER — Minster’s season ended last March with a four-point loss to Jackson Center in a regional final. A nonconference game between the two schools on Saturday was no where near as close.
The Wildcats, which return four starters off of last season’s team, jumped out to a 20-point lead by halftime and cruised to a 53-27 win.
Jackson Center went five and a half minutes without a basket in the first half, during which time Minster turned a three-point lead into a 24-4 lead.
Demaris Wolf scored 11 of her team-high 16 points in the second quarter to help Minster (2-0) pull away early.
“I like the energy we brought in the second quarter,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “We preach energy. I know that it’s difficult to bring energy in every minute of every quarter like every coach wants to, but there’s some high-character kids in that locker room that expect a lot out of themselves. When they expect a lot out of themselves, you get a lot out of your team.”
The Tigers lost all but senior guard Kennadie Reese and Olivia Clark from last season’s team. Coach Jeff Reese said Jackson Center’s inexperienced players were bothered by Minster’s defensive pressure.
“There’s a lot of newness and a lot of fresh blood,” Reese said. “We definitely saw some things we’ve got to work on. But what I just told them in the locker room is we are certainly not going to let this define what our season is going to be. We’re going to take from it and learn and move on.”
Minster quickly took control in the first quarter.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but Clark hit an inside basket for Jackson Center to cut the lead to three points. Jackson Center didn’t score again until Clark made a basket with midway through the second.
Jessica Falk hit a free throw with 1:50 left for Minster and then followed 50 seconds later with an inside basket to increase the lead to 10-4. Falk added a pair of free throws with 50 seconds left in the quarter to give the Wildcats an eight-point lead.
“She had a really nice run there,” Wiss said of Falk. “Really happy with how she came off the bench. We have a little bit of depth, and that depth proves important as the season goes on.
“We have a rotation right now of eight, nine, maybe 10 kids. Sometimes you need all of them and more, so I’m happy we have that and how hard they’re playing right now.”
Jackson Center’s cold shooting and rebounding struggles continued in the second quarter, while Minster was able to continue to move the ball and find open shots.
Taylor Kogge hit a pair of free throws following a Jackson Center technical foul with 5:57 left in the third to give Minster a 21-4 lead.
The Wildcats led 31-11 at halftime and cruised in the second half.
Alli Fischer added 10 points, while Falk finished with seven.
Clark led Jackson Center with 17 points and scored all 11 of the team’s first-half points.
Wiss said he’s pleased with Minster’s 2-0 start but wants the team to shoot at a higher percentage.
“Shooting well cures a lot of basketball’s evils,” Wiss said. “I don’t think we’ve shot the ball overly well yet, but not for the fact of moving on defense and not for the fact of taking poor shots. Shooters are rhythm shooters. You’ve got to shoot to get hot, you’ve got to shoot to stay hot. We’ve got to keep shooting.”
Minster’s next game is Thursday at Celina. Jackson Center (0-1) will return to action next Saturday at home against Russia.
“Coming in against a team like Minster who was so successful on varsity and J.V., and knowing that they maybe were a little hungry from last year, we expected this to be a tough game,” Reese said. “It’s good to see that and see that we all, including us coaches, have some work to do.”
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.