MINSTER — Big time players produce in big games and Minster’s Courtney Prenger proved that in the Wildcats’ 55-54 victory against Ottoville in a nonconference game Saturday.
Down 45-38 win a little more than five minutes left in the game, Minster, ranked No. 1 in the state in Division IV, was in need of an offensive lift not only to catch the Big Green but to stem No. 3 Ottoville’s momentum. The Wildcats got that when Prenger highlighted a 7-0 run to tie the game after she scored five of the seven points to knot the game at 47.
For the next two minutes the two teams traded buckets, and with 45 seconds left Ottoville held 52-51 lead.
But Prenger, who scored 11 of her game-high 22 points in the final minute, hit another clutch basket to put Minster on top and after a miss by Ottoville on its possession, the Wildcats raced down the court and Taylor Kogge laid one in to make it 55-52 with 24 seconds left to help secure the victory.
“You give the ball to your go-to player right now,” said Minster head coach Mike Wiss said about Prenger, a junior, coming up huge during crunch time.
With the win Minster improves to 14-1 and Ottoville suffers its first loss of the year and falls to 15-1.
“Prenger is a wonderful player,” Ottoville head coach Dave Kleman said. “She is Xavier bound and there is a reason she is going to Xavier. I just wish she was a senior.”
Kleman added that this was a hard-fought game against two quality opponents and despite its physical play, both teams exemplified sportsmanship.
“If somebody got knocked down players from both teams were helping them up,” Kleman said. “They were playing the way the game was being called and I thought it was consistent. I have no complaints.”
Minster head coach Mike Wiss praised Prenger’s effort but also said the bench had a lot to do with getting the win.
“Our two guards got in foul trouble early in the game and I did nothing at halftime but compliment our bench that helped us stay in the game against that kind of basketball team,” Wiss said. “I was really pleased with our bench players and the efforts that they gave defensively and offensively.”
Wiss pointed to the efforts of Danielle Barhorst, Paige Thobe, Karly Richard, Jessica Falk and Kendra Thien.
Minster’s Ivy Wolf finished with 15 points.
Kleman said despite the loss the team did a great job against one of the best team’s in the state.
Minster’s defense did a great job of neutralizing Bridgit Landin, who scored nine points, but Cassandra Kemper and Kasey Knippen stepped up offensively and combined for 37 points with Knippen pumping in 20 and Kemper scoring 17.
“They did a really good job on Bridget but we have other people who can do things,” Kleman said. “She only gets 10 shots a game, and she is very unselfish and she cleans the boards. We have plenty of other kids that can do things.”
Landin may not have scored in double-digits but she was a force on the boards with 12 rebounds, and she also notched three blocks.
Kleman said he hopes this game acts as a springboard for the final third of the season.
“You have to play against really good teams to get better and that is why we have played Minster for 20 something years,” Kleman said. “We want to put good teams on the schedule just like Mike (Wiss). … We would rather have this than a 50-point win. The next best thing to playing and winning is playing and losing. We are in the game and that is life and we are making memories.”