COLUMBUS — Minster coach Mike Wiss offhandedly mentioned some “things that might have gone wrong,” following the squad’s Division IV state semifinal at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center on Friday.
When asked to pinpoint just one thing that got went wrong, Wiss, Courtney Prenger and Ivy Wolf all chuckled. Though Wiss later did rattle off a few things after the laughter, his critiques likely went unnoticed by the great majority of Friday’s spectators — 30-point wins don’t often expose many flaws by the victors to the general public.
The defending Div. IV state champion Wildcats took a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and never let Willoughby Cornerstone Christian come closer the rest of the way in a 65-31 victory. The win advances Minster (27-1) to the D-IV state title game, which will be at 5:15 on Saturday in Columbus.
Minster crushed Cornerstone Christian (23-5) in every facet. The Patriots had played one of the state’s toughest small-school schedules, which featured opponents like Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame and Elyria Catholic.
Cornerstone suffered far and away its worst defeat of the season against the Minster, though. The Wildcats picked apart the squad’s defense and suffocated its offense by preventing many drives. Cornerstone’s previous worse loss was 28-point defeat to Mount Notre Dame.
“Defensively, I’m really pleased, especially with the amount of penetration Cornerstone prides themselves on,” Wiss said. “Yes, they got in between the elbows some, but I’m really proud of how we didn’t allow them to go all the way to the rim or to get their shoulders turned to go to the rim.”
Minster, which won the Div. IV title last year, advances to face Ottoville in Saturday’s championship game. Ottoville beat Shadyside 50-43 in Friday’s second D-IV semifinal.
It will be a rematch of last year’s title game. The Wildcats beat Ottoville 63-48 a year ago to secure the title and beat the Big Green in a nonconference game this season 46-28.
“Everyone on our team wanted to win this game,” Prenger said. “We went out there, we had the heart, we won it, so now we have the opportunity to play in that state final.”
Prenger, a 6-foot-1 Xavier commit, led Minster with 18 points and nine rebounds on Friday. She had one block on defense, but she made a big difference by clogging the post.
“She’s got one more game in a Minster uniform,” Wiss said of Prenger, who surpassed 1,000 career points earlier this season. “She knows how important her job is inside. We talk about it all the time.”
Wolf added 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Demaris Wolf finished with nine and Karly Richard scored eight off the bench.
Minster shot 27 for 47 (57.4 percent) from the field and outrebounded the Patriots 36-14.
Cornerstone Christian shot 10 for 33 (30.3 percent) from the field, including 4 for 17 in the second half. The team committed 16 turnovers.
“Our coaches do a great job of giving us the scouting reports and getting us prepared, and we just have to trust in them and trust in our work ethic,” Ivy Wolf said. “I think we did that tonight, and it really showed.”
The Wildcats took a 12-point lead by the end of the first quarter, and Cornerstone Christian struggled just to play even from there.
Minster led 34-19 at halftime, but the Patriots pulled within 13 points at 36-23 early in the third. Minster scored the next 12 points on a run that Karly Richard capped off with a basket in the paint with 1:42 left.
Cornerstone Christian didn’t come closer than 24 points the rest of the way.
“I thought our girls really executed what we had talked about with Cornerstone Christian really well,” Wiss said. “We had a little bit of patience, Ivy handled the ball well, and we found Courtney Prenger inside on some lobs and cuts from high post to low post. Our offense goes through her.”
Kailey Tyna led the Patriots with 13 points and five rebounds. Cornerstone’s leading scorers Riley Stopp and Michaela Cloonan scored three points and two points, respectively. Both averaged about 13.
“All week in practice, Coach was telling us, ‘They’re quick, they’re quick,’ so all week we kind of gave a step and learned our job was to stay and keep them in front of us,” Ivy Wolf said. “We knew if we could do that, we’d be in a good position. We have a lot of good guards and good posts on our team. Being able to switch anytime is kind of a good advantage for us.”
The Wildcats emptied their bench late and got several reserve players in the game — including junior Mara Schmiesing, who missed most of regular season due to a labrum injury.
Minster scored the first six points of the game and took a 9-2 lead after a 3 by Janae Hoying with 4:20 left in the first. The Patriots scored the next four points to pull within 9-6, but the Wildcats then went on a 7-0 run, which Falk capped off with a three-point play with 28 seconds left.
The Wildcats led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter and quickly increased their lead in the second. Ivy Wolf hit a 3-pointer with 4:13 left to put the Wildcats ahead 27-11.