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Red-hot Rosecrans dismantles Holgate

03/14/2014, 12:00am EDT
By STEVE JUNGA BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Holgate's Rachel Desgranges, left, puts up a shot against Zanesville Rosecrans' Kloie Johnson, who scored 19 points.

COLUMBUS — Unranked Holgate’s hopes of upsetting third-ranked Zanesville Rosecrans were dashed early.

The Tigers fell behind 16-4 after one quarter and never seriously threatened the Bishops in a 55-40 loss in a Division IV girls state basketball semifinal Thursday night at the Schottenstein Center.

After Rosecrans got a 3-pointer, and then three free throws, from Kloie Johnson in a span of 37 seconds, the Bishops were ahead 12-2. Jess Smith then added a put-back basket with 1:49 left in the first quarter to give the Bishops (27-1) a 12-point lead.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game,” Rosecrans coach Gale Kirkbride said. “We got a couple easy buckets, and that kind of loosened the girls up. Then we relaxed, and from there it was good. A lot of people stepped up.”

PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view photos of the game.

Johnson’s 3-point shooting (4 for 8 in the game, 19 total points) was complemented by the inside success of forward Molly Nash, who had 11 points and four rebounds, and the all-around play of guard Alexis Kirkbride, who added 11 points and six assists.

Marissa Myles scored eight of her 19 points in the second quarter, when Holgate (23-5) finally found some offensive flow to stay within 27-14 at halftime.

But the early hole proved too deep to climb out of, and continued to grow on the Tigers, who were making their fourth appearance in a state final four.

“They took us out of a lot of things we like to do,” Holgate coach Jim Niese said. “They played extremely well offensively and sort of put it to us tonight.

“I’m proud of my girls. We had a great season, even though we didn’t end on a positive note. We didn’t play what we felt was our best game."

Rosecrans came out red-hot again to start the second half, hitting its first five shots from the field and storming to a 39-14 lead.

That decisive surge was capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Johnson, who had all 19 of her points by the 4:41 mark of the third quarter.

“I got pretty comfortable with the hoops,” Johnson said, “and Molly and I both felt pretty good about it.”

For much of the game, Myles, who also grabbed 11 rebounds, was the Tigers’ only viable option against a Rosecrans defense that made things difficult on the perimeter for Holgate.

“I like to play physical, and [Rosecrans’ pressure] it made me play stronger and harder,” Myles said. “They were just pressuring us and we weren’t getting open.

“This was my dream to get here, and I finally got to do that. It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had.”

Through three quarters, the Tigers trailed 41-20, and only during a 20-point fourth quarter did they establish any rhythm.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.

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