ELIDA - The Patrick Henry girls basketball team passed its final "board" examination last night, and the Patriots' reward is a trip to the state tournament for the second straight year.
Patrick Henry crashed the backboards against Henry County rival Holgate, outrebounding the Tigers 32-17 en route to a 52-45 victory in the Division IV regional final at Elida High School.
The Patriots' Stacie Coressel and Alison Meyer combined for 24 rebounds, including eight offensive boards, as well as 24 points. Jenna Inselmann contributed 14 points as Patrick Henry (25-0) returns to Ohio State's Schottenstein Center one year after losing in the Division III title game.
Beth Giesige had 15 points and Liza Clady added 14 for the Tigers (20-5).
"We knew that [rebounding] would be one key coming into the ball game," PH coach Rick Schwiebert said. "We knew they would be able to shoot the ball from the outside, so we knew we'd have to crash the boards and give them just one shot on defense while getting second chances to do something on offense."
The Patriots jumped on Holgate early, scoring the game's first 11 points and forcing the Tigers to commit six turnovers in the first four minutes.
"We were prepared for what they did, but they were intense and they executed way better than we did and put us in an incredible hole," Holgate coach Jim Niese said. "It's hard to get [players], in their first experience in a game to go to state, to relax and play under control. By the time we relaxed, they were up 11-0 and we were battling uphill the whole way."
In the second period it was the Patriots, who led 16-7 after one quarter, who got sloppy. They turned the ball over six times in the period, and Giesige's second and third 3-pointers of the half helped the Tigers trim their deficit to 23-18.
Patrick Henry led 37-26 after three quarters primarily because of its rebounding. Holgate had only one offensive board in the first three quarters - they finished with just four for the game - and 11 rebounds through three periods.
Meanwhile, Patrick Henry's Coressel, who stands 5-foot-9, had seven offensive rebounds in the first three periods that led to seven second-chance points and lifted the Patriots to a 24-11 rebounding edge through three periods.
In the final quarter Holgate was able to cut the lead to five points twice, but the Tigers made only 2 of 9 3-point shots in the quarter while PH connected on 8 of 10 free throws in the final 2:46 to seal the victory.
"I thought we fought back valiantly to get back into the ball game, but we could never get over the hump," Niese said. "We had 1-and-1 free throws that we missed that would have put us one possession down. We had wide open 3s that would have put us one possession down."
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6481.