COLUMBUS — The Jackson Center Lady Tigers battled the favored Fostoria St. Wendelin Lady Mohawks from start to finish, but in the end, it was poor shooting that did them in Friday in girls Division 4 state semifinal basketball action at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
The final 47-37 score ends Jackson Center’s season at 21-8. St. Wendelin will play for the state title today at 5:15 with a 26-3 mark.
“No regrets. No regrets at all, except coming up a little short today,” said Jackson coach Scott Doseck. “Nobody expected us to be here, and this was a dream come true for these girls.”
The Lady Tigers started out well, and shocked St. Wendelin coach Aaron Smith in the process.
Cassie Meyer got a good bounce on her three-pointer, and after a St. Wendelin miss, Nicole Fogt drained another three-pointer to make it 6-0 before the game was two minutes old.
“We thought we would be the team to come out and start fast because we were here last year,” said the St. Wendelin coach. “But the Jackson girls won the state in volleyball last fall, so they weren’t nervous at all.”
The Lady Tiger defensive strategy against 6-foot-4 Kamryn Troike was using two players, one in front and one behind, and then ganging up on her when the ball was lobbed in, which it was just about every time down the floor.
The strategy was a good one, if for no other reason than St. Wendelin didn’t appear to have much of an outside game. But the Lady Tigers still had their hands full trying to stop Troike, a Kent State signee who entered the game with over 2,000 career points.
She had a double-double by the half, with 14 points and 10 rebounds. And two of her buckets came at the end of the first quarter on offensive rebounds after missed free throws by St. Wendelin. And because of that Jackson Center trailed 13-10 heading to the second quarter, despite leading for most of the first.
The Lady Mohawks then came out and scored the first six points of the second quarter to flirt with a double-figure lead. The Lady Tigers were having a difficult time getting any clean shots against St. Wendelin’s matchup zone, which was pushing them well out beyond the three-point line.
They had a 4-0 run late in the quarter, the second bucket coming on a nice drive by Peyton Esser, that cut the lead down to 23-16, but they could get no closer before the half and trailed by 10 at the break at 26-16. The Lady Tigers had chances to cut the lead under 10 by the half but came up empty on their last three possessions of the quarter.
When the first half ended, Jackson Center had connected on just 6 for 23 from the field for 26 percent. St. Wendelin, with virtually all its shots coming in the lane, was 8 for 15 from the floor for 53 percent. First-half stats had the Lady Mohawks with 16 points “in the paint.” Their other eight came on foul shots.
Jackson Center attempted 11 three-pointers in the first half to just one for St. Wendelin. It was just as lopsided from the free throw line — St. Wendelin was 10 for 15 and Jackson Center 2 for 3.
Smith said he was hoping his team could add about five points to their lead early in the third quarter, but it went the other way. The Lady Tigers scored the first seven of the pedriod on a bucket by Pauline Meyer, a bucket by Fogt, then a three-pointer by Fogt to cut the lead to 26-23 with 2:58 left in the quarter.
But St. Wendelin, shut out until the 2:41 mark, outscored the Lady Tigers 6-2 over the rest of the quarter. That doesn’t seem like much, but it pushed the lead back out to seven at the end of the period at 32-25.
The lead reached 34-25 before Pauline Meyer drained a three and Olivia Clark followed with a bucket around a St. Wendelin free throw to make it 35-30. But that was as close as the Lady Tigers would come.
St. Wendelin got a free throw from Allie Rutter, two from Troike and a basketball from Troike to make it 40-30 with just 2:46 remaining.
After Christen Ware hit two free throws, St. Wendelin scored seven straight to open up a 47-32 bulge.
Jackson Center’s shooting didn’t improve in the second half. The Lady Tigers finished the game just 12 for 49 for 25 percent. St. Wendelin was 15 for 32 for 47 percent and 17 for 26 from the line.
Troike finished with 24 points, 17 rebounds and eight blocks, and a healthy amount of respect for Jackson Center.
“I get it every game, but this was the worst,” said the St. Wendelin star. “You have to be mentally tough. I knew it was going to be rough, but not that rough.”
Jackson Center got 14 points from Fogt along with nine rebounds. Meyer finished with 10 points and three steals, and Cassie Meyer had four assists.
“We knew what we had to do against their big girl, but we didn’t know how big she was until we stepped on the court,” said Doseck. “We knew they would try to get the ball down inside to her as much as possible, and they did a good job. She’s a big girl with good hands.”
Jackson Center (37) — P. Meyer 10, Esser 4, C. Meyer 3, Fogt 14, Clark 4, Ware 2.
St. Wendelin (47) — Peince 1, P. Troike 3, Burns 8, Rutter 11, K. Troike 24.
Score by quarters:
Three-pointers: St. Wendelin 0, JC 4 (Fogt 2, P. Meyer, C. Meyer).
Records: JC 21-8, St. Wendelin 26-3.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818