SPRINGFIELD — After a close 1-point loss to their Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North rivals Kettering Alter back in January, the Carroll Patriots girls high school basketball team wanted another shot at the two-time defending state champions.
They got it.
Alter dominated play, Friday, March 10, to claim a convincing 55-38 win in the Division II regional championship game at Springfield High School.
The only lead the Patriots (23-5) had was a 2-0 margin one minute into the game. But Alter (26-2) responded with a 9-0 run to take the lead for good. Alter’s Associated Press co-Southwest District Players of the Year — Braxtin Miller and Libby Bazelak — combined to score 37 of the Knights’ points. Bazelak poured in 17, while future Oklahoma State Cowboy Miller scored a game-high 20. Four other Alter players combined for the other 18 points.
“We’re disappointed, but at the same time I’m really proud of the team, and I’m really proud of the team for having the kind of season that we did. I never thought we would have this run,” Carroll coach Cecilia Grosselin said. “I told them they have a lot to be proud of, and that they lost to a very good team.
“No regrets. We went at ‘em hard, and did what we could. It just wasn’t our night.”
Standout senior Amanda Schroeder was double and triple teamed throughout the game, and still managed to finish with a team-high 14 points. Fellow senior Sydney Ingram ended her career with an eight-point outing, freshman phenom Allie Stefanek scored five points, senior Ellie Rumme and freshman Julia Keller each scored four points, and senior guard Morgan King added three in the Patriot loss. Carroll will lose the services of those seniors, Maggie Root, Chloe Lloyd and Dana Koesters.
After the Knights’ narrow come-from-behind 32-31 win in Carroll’s gym back on Feb. 4, Alter co-coach Christina Hart told her kids that they had “one month to get ready to play them again.
“The last time we played them, we were coming off a really tough stretch of games. We did not play with any kind of energy, and they did,” said Hart. “We had a month to get ready for that Carroll team, and to prepare for that. And that helped us immensely tonight. Our defense has gotten better all year long, I think that made a difference. And knowing them as well as we do, that helped too. We told them in the last two days of practice that rebounding was going to be the key to winning this game.”
Unofficially, Alter out-rebounded Carroll by a 25-18 margin.
“(Carroll) played very well all year, they played a great schedule this year and they got themselves prepared. I thought their coaching staff did a tremendous job, to take over in a tough situation. They got those kids to play together and to play hard all year. That’s scary coming into the finals against a team like that, especially against a rival school,” Hart added.
Grosselin took over for the late Rob Berry, who died of cancer last year.
Three of Carroll’s losses this season were to Alter. The Knights’ senior class currently sports an overall record of 113-5.
With the win, Alter heads to the state tournament in Columbus for the fourth consecutive year. The two-time defending state champs advance to take on No. 1-ranked Ottawa Glandorf at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 16 in the state semifinals in Columbus.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.