SIDNEY — It took six quarters, but Riverside figured out how to defend Jackson Center forwards Regan and Kylie Clark. That revelation allowed the squad to earn its first tournament victory in 10 years.
Riverside limited the Tigers to six points in the second half and rallied from a four-point deficit to earn a 38-28 victory in a Division IV sectional final on Tuesday at Sidney High School. The win advances the team to a district semifinal against No. 1 seed Fort Loramie, which steamrolled Ansonia in Tuesday’s second sectional final.
The Pirates struggled with Jackson Center’s sister post players in a three-point nonconference loss in regular season and struggled again in the first half on Tuesday. They held the Tigers scoreless in the third quarter, though, and scored 12 consecutive points to take control.
“The girls just played so hard,” Riverside coach Bryce Hodge said. “They were playing hard defensively and rotating. Those Clark girls tore us up the first game and were tearing us up in the first half, so we adjusted to the 2-3 (zone), and we just rotated and worked well together. It was incredible.”
Regan Clark, a 6-foot-0 freshman, scored 14 points in Jackson Center’s 34-31 win over the Pirates on Dec. 10 and scored 13 points in the first half on Tuesday while Katie Clark, a 6-1 junior, scored all five of her points in the second quarter.
The duo was held to three points in the second half and also struggled to grab rebounds. The Pirates finished with a 33-20 rebounding advantage.
“They’re bigger than us, but our girls worked hard and really outworked them,” Hodge said. “We really used our speed to our advantage and just got after every ball.”
Riverside got a scoring boost from sophomore guard Kirstin Schlumbohm, who led the team with 14 points. She hit 4-of-4 3-pointers and brought down four rebounds.
“That was awesome,” Hodge said. “It was really great to see that from her. I tell them all that they have the green light to shoot if they’re open, but Kirstin is always hesitant to do that and wants to distribute the ball. I’m glad she took her shots tonight. She played great offensively, definitely her best night of the year.”
Junior guard Lauryn Sanford added 10 points and 11 rebounds for Riverside, which has just one senior. Sanford also had four assists and two steals.
“With losing five seniors last year and her being our only returning starter, her leadership is huge,” Hodge said. “… She did a great job defensively like she always does.”
Hodge said the win is another positive development for the program, which had a winning record last season for the first time in nine years. The squad finished second in the Northwest Central Conference this season.
“It’s cool with how young we are, with only having three letterwinners back from last year,” Hodge said. “We had some ups and downs and I didn’t know what team we were going to be on a given night, but I’m just proud of how we’ve grown and how much experience we’ve gotten.”
Jackson Center held Riverside to one point in the second quarter and led 22-18 at halftime. The Pirates dominated the third quarter, though, with a 12-0 scoring advantage.
“We took a lot better care of the ball,” Hodge said. “We had better ball movement and we shot the ball well.”
Schlumbohm hit a 3-pointer in the first 10 seconds of the third to bring Riverside within one point, then Olivia Perk hit a jumper to give the team a 23-22 lead. Allison Knight hit a 3 from the left wing with 6:30 left and Amber Waters made a put-back with five minutes left to increase the lead to 28-22. Sanford finished Riverside’s scoring in the quarter with a basket with 1:31 left.
The Tigers broke their scoreless streak when Regan Clark made a basket with 6:34 left in the fourth. Morgan Huber made a 3 with 3:48 left in the fourth to bring Jackson Center within 33-28, but the Pirates quickly secured it from there.
Perk made a basket shortly after a turnover with 2:10 left, then Waters made two foul shots with 1:42 left and Sanford split a pair before the final buzzer.
Jackson Center jumped out to a 12-5 lead but the Pirates finished the first quarter with a 12-2 run to take a 17-14 lead. Schlumbohm ended the run with a 3 from the top of the key with 13 seconds left.
Riverside couldn’t hit shots in the second quarter and had two consecutive possessions end in offensive fouls. Jackson Center slowly retook the lead thanks to baskets by Regan and Katie Clark in the post.
Regan Clark finished with 15 points for the Tigers, which will lose two seniors to graduation in Kylie Hartle and Lexi Schmiesing. Jackson Center, which was the No. 7 seed, finishes 6-18 overall.
The No. 8 seed Pirates will now take the Fort Loramie challenge on Monday at Sidney.
“We still have a lot of things to improve on, but I’m just proud of how hard they played and how hard they worked as a team tonight,” Hodge said.
Fort Loramie 90, Ansonia 12
Braid power was back in full force for the Redskins (22-0) in their first tournament game on Tuesday.
Fort Loramie’s players have a tradition of wearing braids during sectional tournament games, and every player put them on display on the floor. The squad played all 15 players and used a suffocating full-court press to power a 62-8 scoring advantage in the first half against the No. 12 seed Tigers (4-20).
“All the girls played hard and I thought they did exactly what we ask them to do in practice every day, and that’s to play great defense and get deflections and steals,” Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel said. “… I liked the energy that they brought tonight.”
Taylor Ratermann set a program single-season record after hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers. She now has 51 3s on the season, which surpasses the program’s previous record of 50, which was set in 2015 by Hallie Benanzer.
Ratermann finished with 11 points while Ava Sholtis and Kenzie Hoelscher each scored 19. Marissa Meiring added 14 points and a team-high eight rebounds and Jadyn Puthoff scored eight points. Dana Rose had a team-high seven assists while Ratermann and Sholtis each had four steals.
The Redskins, which were ranked No. 1 in D-IV in the final state Associated Press poll, made 38-of-65 shots (58 percent) while the Tigers made 4-of-13 (31 percent).
“Them not playing complacent, that would be by number one concern,” Siegel said. “We’ve been working on that. Our coaches have helped keep the practices intense, the scout team has done a good job challenging our girls. I give our assistant coaches and our girls a lot of credit.”
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.