ADA — The Rogers girls basketball team tipped off the season thinking any chance at making it to Columbus would probably require getting past its personal roadblock the past two seasons: Lima Bath.
Rogers refused to lose a third straight time to Bath in Tuesday night’s Division II regional semifinal at Ohio Northern University.
The Rams, led by starting guards Cha’Ron Sweeney and Sasha Dailey, smashed Bath to come away with a 58-46 victory.
The Rams (22-3) overcame the Wildkittens (20-6) by applying a stifling man-to-man defense that limited Bath to 28.5 percent shooting (16 of 56) for the game.
Rogers will face Clyde in a regional final Friday night at Ontario.
“We played really well tonight,” Rogers coach Lamar Smith said. “We had to fight all the way through. I’m proud of the young ladies for hanging in and finishing it because there were some times when the game was getting close and we had to dig deep.”
Rogers’ backcourt duo led the way for a team that shot 49 percent from the field.
Sweeney, the 5-foot-2 senior, pumped in a game-high 17 points, which included going 9 of 10 on foul shots. Dailey, a 5-8 junior, delivered 15 points and a game-high six steals.
The Rams’ returning backcourt was determined not to let its third straight season come to a familiar end.
“This means a lot because we didn’t want to lose to them three years in a row,” said Dailey, who scored several baskets off steals.
The Rams, who have been known to light up the scoreboard, took a different approach against Bath. They came into the game thinking defense would be key to moving past Bath.
The Rams forced the Wildkittens into seven of their 13 turnovers during the first half. That helped Rogers take a 30-24 lead into halftime.
“We worked on that a lot in practice,” Smith said of playing defense. “We went into a man-to-man defense. We did a lot of switching, and the girls really did well switching off a lot of their screens and talking and communicating. That was key tonight playing defense.”
Emily Ruhe, Bath’s 6-foot senior, finished with 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Audrey Brandon and Taylor Dackin added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
However, Bath spent most of the second half trying to cut into the Rams’ lead, only to get no closer than five in the third quarter. Bath trailed 40-29 entering the fourth.
Bath coach Greg Mauk said a poor shooting night made it difficult.
“A lot of the credit for that goes to their defense,” Mauk said. “Their size was a real big factor.”
Marquelle Williams (6-1), Keasja Peace (6-2), Toriana Easley (5-11), and Akienreh Johnson (6-0) offered plenty of defense near the basket.
Williams also produced 10 points and six rebounds, while Easley added eight points and a team-high nine boards. Johnson grabbed eight rebounds and scored five points.
Rogers made 16 of 22 foul shots.
Contact Donald Emmons at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.