Gabel, Rangers Advance To Districts

Players and coaches of the New Knoxville girls basketball team pose for a picture after defeating New Bremen 44-36 in a Division IV sectional final on Saturday at Bath High School.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Ellie Gabel is good at basketball.

Named the Midwest Athletic Conference’s First-Team selection, the sophomore put on display why she was named to that accolade on Saturday.

She helped propel the Rangers to a 15-5 first-quarter lead, but her absence was greatly felt in the second quarter when she went to the bench with two fouls. Then Gabel nearly outscored New Bremen in the third quarter, in essence, putting the game away in the early going of the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers as New Knoxville claimed a sectional title in back-to-back seasons with a 44-36 Divison IV sectional championship.

“She’s still learning,” Rangers coach Tim Hegemier said. “She’s only a sophomore and she turned the ball over at times when she shouldn’t, but fit she gets smarter by the time she is a senior she otta be pretty darn good.”

Saturday’s win sends the Rangers to the district tournament where they will face Fort Recovery in a semifinal match at 8 p.m. Thursday at Wapakoneta High School.

Gabel led all scorers with 20 points, but when the Rangers point guard was hit with her second foul at the 5:18 mark of the second quarter, New Bremen took advantage.

Trailing 21-7, the Cardinals stymied the Rangers offense, whose last points of the first half came on a Megan Jurosic layup at the 5:00 mark. Four of the next five possessions turned into miscues for New Knoxville while the Cardinals turned those miscues into points with back-to-back Kaylee Freund buckets and a free throw by the sophomore to close the deficit to 21-12 at the half.

But Gabel put her stamp on the game to open the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to push the Rangers’ lead to 27-14 and New Bremen never pulled any closer than eight points after that.

“You’ve gotta give New Bremen credit,” Hegemier said. “They didn’t lay down and die. They made some 3-point shots there in the end and we had a hand high on them but they still put them in.”

The Cardinals fought.

Down 35-20 to open the final stanza, New Bremen scored 10 of the game’s next 13 points, capped off by a Lily Lennartz 3-pointer with 3:46 left to pull within 38-30, but Rangers kept the Cardinals from scoring another point as the game concluded with free throws for New Knoxville.

Turnovers haunted the Cardinals with 19 and the Rangers capitalized on those mistakes early to build up their lead.

Seven Cardinals’ turnovers translated into seven Rangers’ points in the first quarter and nine in the first half. Jackyln Leffel hit a pair of treys in the opening quarter, with her first coming off a Cardinals’ turnovers and Gabel concluded the quarter with a reserve layup off a steal at the other end.

That big 15-5 lead aided the Rangers as the Cardinals finished the first half strong, but the turnovers loomed large with nine points off miscues. New Bremen trailed by nine at halftime.

“It’s been a thing all year long of taking care of the ball,” Cardinals coach Chris Burden said. “Before you pass the ball, you have to survey the court before you make a pass and that is something in the offseason that we have to get better at if we want to get where New Knoxville is.”

Leffel finished with 11 points, followed by eight from Morgan Leffel. No Cardinal scored in double figures, but Freund led the way with seven points, followed by six each from Elli Roetgerman, Madison Cordonnier and Lily Lennartz.