ST. MARYS — The New Knoxville girls basketball team has no problem waiting as long as it takes for an opposing defense to break down.
At times on Thursday night, it took a Job-like patience to get the job done.
Undersized Ada pestered and pushed the bigger, stronger New Knoxville girls basketball team for more than three quarters on Thursday night, threatening to set up what has been unthinkable recently — a Division IV district title game in western Ohio without a Midwest Athletic Conference team.
But New Knoxville displayed that trademark patience in the second half and separated itself from the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter with a cool demeanor at the free throw line and an effective half-court offense.
The MAC still has someone to carry the flag.
The Rangers got past feisty Ada 52-43 in the Division IV district semifinal in St. Marys Memorial High School's first chance to play the role of tournament showpiece.
The Horseshoe saw two games still very much in question deep into the fourth quarter.
USV stormed back from an 16-point deficit and outscored Fort Recovery 27-8 in the fourth quarter in a stunning 58-52 win over the Indians behind Kayla Prater’s 30-point performance.
The Rangers (20-3) won their 20th game of the season and move on to play Upper Scioto Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m. at Memorial High School.
New Knoxville defeated USV in the regular season, 53-46, on Saturday, Jan. 14 at The Barn.
The Rangers went 11-for-14 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter. They shot 5-of-7 from the floor in the fourth.
New Knoxville’s Paige Lehman finished with a game-high 19 points. Tiana Heidt scored nine points and grabbed a team-high six boards. Haley Horstman had nine points.
Tabbi Joliff and Talor Willeke scored 13 points apiece to lead Ada, which bowed out at 13-10.
In the opening game USV increased the defensive pressure, forced 26 Fort Recovery turnovers and had the Indians in a full panic bringing the ball down the court by the end of the game.
The Rams, behind standout senior Kayla Prater’s 30-point performance, flipped the game’s script completely, leaving Fort Recovery dazed after watching a 16-point lead disappear.
“If you turn the ball over 26 times you don’t deserve to win,” Fort Recovery head coach Doug Bihn said.
Prater went 8-of-13 from the floor and 3-of-4 from three-point range to reach 30.
Kylie Kahlig finished the game with 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 11 rebounds.