XENIA — While reacting to having three legacy girls named all-Southwest District, Emma Hess mentioned that if Margaret Kensinger had played all season she would have been an all-district selection as well.
In a Division-IV district final on Saturday, Kensinger — who missed a big chunk of the season with a stress fracture — made her case. With Hess (co-player of the year) and Kathleen Ahner (second team) struggling to get going early as Bradford put all its defensive attention on them, Kensinger played pop-a-shot from myriad spots on the Troy high school court.
She scored a team-high 11 points in the first half to spark the Knights, who then picked it up in the second half and cruised to a 55-35 win to claim a third straight district title and earn a rematch with Tri-Village in Thursday’s regional semifinal.
Tri-Village beat Legacy, 43-36, in the regional semis last season.
“Emma and Kathleen are such great basketball players, they get double teamed and triple teamed all the time,” Kensinger said. “Coach told us before the game, regardless of whether we do well … we’re going to get looks. I just felt confident. God was gracious. I just want to be there for my team.”
Kensinger scored Legacy’s first five points and made three three-point shots in the first half. Her second three pointer gave the Knights a 10-8 lead and her third three pointer made it 22-15 Legacy with 5:40 left in the half.
“She let us settle into the game, for one, I think,” Coach Mark Combs said. “We’re seeing so many defenses this year. You’ve got to get settled into the game. (Margaret) doing that, I can’t say enough about it. What a great kid to have around and on the team.”
Ahner took over in the second quarter, scoring six points to help the Knights lead, 26-20, at halftime. Then in the third quarter Hess showed why she was the southwest district co-player of the year and is almost a lock to be on the All-Ohio first team.
She hit a three pointer seconds into the third quarter, then after a pair of Kensinger buckets and a basket by Bradford, she scored 10 straight for Legacy to make it 43-22 Legacy with 1:41 left in the third.
Following a three-pointer by Ahner to make it 46-26, Bradford scored six straight — three at the end of the third and three to start the fourth. But Ahner scored on a nice drive-and-scoop and then Hess scored on a drive to the bucket and then on a mid-range turnaround jumper that has been unstoppable all season to make it 52-32 with 4:02 left.
Hess finished with 22 points, eight rebounds and four blocks, while Ahner had 18 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Kensinger finished with 15 points and three steals. Caroline Kensinger had eight rebounds — six offensive including one that set up Hess for a three-pointer during her 10-0 run.
“I thought early on she gave us extra possessions,” Combs said of the younger Kensinger.
Combs also cited Ahner for her “tremendous” defensive effort on Austy Miller, who scored just eight points, nearly 10 below her 17.8 average that earned her first-team All-SW district honors.
The winner of Thursday’s game will play the winner of the Fort Loramie-Minster game in the regional final.