RUSSIA — A showdown between two of the area’s best girls basketball teams turned into a showcase of just how good Minster is.
The Wildcats pulled ahead early and ran away in the second half to a 60-33 win over Russia on Saturday at Clair C. Naveau Gymnasium.
Minster hit five 3-pointers in the first quarter and added another three in the second, which helped in amassing a 32-14 halftime lead. The Wildcats added two 3-pointers in the second half and scored on several shots in the paint late to pull away.
Minster’s three starting guards all scored in double figures. Alli Fischer led Minster with 17 points, including five 3’s. Ivy Wolf added 13 points and Demaris Wolf scored 11, nine of which came in the first half.
Russia junior forward Laurissa Poling scored a season-low two points against the Wildcats. Poling entered the game with an average of 13 points per game.
“Defensively, I’m happy with what we did to Poling in the middle,” Minster coach Mike Wiss said. “… Don’t get me wrong, she does distribute. When they get it in, she does get it back out to shooters. We turned our back a little too much to shooters, and it wasn’t always a shot, but they’d have a penetrating move to the basket. We’ve got work to do there, but I’m pleased.”
Jenna Cordonnier led the Raiders with 14 points, while Ashley Scott was second on the team with seven.
Russia started the third quarter on a 6-1 run and later pulled as close as 11 points, but Minster pulled away after a timeout.
Demaris Wolf added a long jumper to put Minster up 40-27, then Jessica Falk scored after a steal in the final minute to put Minster ahead by 15. The Wildcats outscored Russia 18-6 in the fourth quarter to secure the win.
“How they respond out of a timeout or after a 10-minute halftime is what matters,” Wiss said. “I was really pleased how that timeout ended up. That was a positive response there.”
Timmerman said Russia how too many turnovers, especially in the final 10 minutes.
“We were doing the little things right, were patient offensively and got really good looks,” Russia coach Andy Timmerman said. “Then we didn’t and turned the ball over more again. That was able to get them more in the lead again.”
Saturday’s game was the third time the teams have played in the last year. Minster beat Russia by six points in a regular season game last January and by 27 points in a Division IV regional semifinal last March.
Another meeting may not be out of the question later this season. Timmerman said the Raiders (8-1, 4-0 Shelby County Athletic League) have a lot of work needed before any second meeting.
Timmerman said several players were dealing with illness (including Cameo Wilson, who did not play), but said more consistency is needed.
“We’ve just got to play as a team,” Timmerman said. “Dealing with the things we were dealing with, we’ve just got to come together, and not try to do it all ourselves. It’s a big learning curve. That’s a great team putting pressure on us, and we’ve got to handle their pressure better.”
With the Wildcats off to a hot start after a regional final appearance last year, they’ll likely be one of the top rated teams in the first Associated Press D-IV state poll, which will be released soon after New Year’s.
Minster (8-0, 2-0 Midwest Athletic Conference) plays at Lima Bath on Friday against Toledo Start.
“Playing eight, nine games, people know what we’re going to do,” Wiss said. “So we’ve got to be a little bit more particular, a little bit more consistent with our effort. But on the whole, if you can get score, stop, score more often than the other team, you’re good. I thought we did that pretty good.”
Russia will return to action next Saturday with another tough MAC opponent in defending Div. III state runner-up Versailles (9-1).
Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter.