Saturday, March 10, 2001

McNicholas girls earn first trip to state




By Mark Schmetzer
Enquirer contributor

        VANDALIA — The unofficial cheerleader was leading a chant behind the McNicholas bench.

        “Who's going to Columbus next Thursday?”

        “Rockets!”

        There still was 1:12 to play in Friday's Division II girls basketball regional championship, but the answer was clear. The Rockets, the No.3 team in the Enquirer's Divisions II-IV coaches poll, could celebrate their first regional championship and a trip to the state semifinals.

        Behind a career-high 23 points from junior forward Lynn Oberschmidt, McNick went on to beat Dayton Dunbar 66-53 and earn a matchup with the winner of tonight's Zanesville regional final between West Holmes and Hartley at 7p.m. Thursday at Ohio State University's Schottenstein Center.

        The state championship game is 2p.m. next Saturday.

        “It's awesome,” said Oberschmidt, who scored 15 points in the second half to help hold off the Wolverines. “It's just incredible.”

        “I can't believe it,” senior point guard Kendra Hornschemeier said. “Our goal was to go to state, but I still can't believe it.”

        The Rockets' main concern going into the game was handling Dunbar's trapping defense. They turned the job over to Hornschemeier, who spent the night single-handedly dribbling out of trouble.

        “I think they were trying to tire her out,” McNicholas coach Rob Heise said. “Betsey (Clark) missed almost the entire first half with fouls, so we didn't have the rotation, but (Hornschemeier is) tough as nails, and she's in great shape. I think she's the backbone of our team.”

        After a nip-and-tuck first quarter in which McNicholas couldn't build on six two-point leads, senior Ashley Clark put together a personal 6-0 run that left the Rockets leading 19-13 with 5:55 left in the second quarter. Sophomore Kim Breving's layup with 1:03 left allowed McNicholas to take that lead into halftime. McNicholas widened the lead to 37-28 with 4:11 left in the third quarter, but Dunbar fought back behind three 3-pointers from Candice Baldwin to cut the deficit to 39-38 with 1:03 left in the quarter. That was the closest Dunbar got to the Rockets since the first quarter, when the Wolverines recorded their only lead.

        Breving responded with two free throws, and Oberschmidt hit an 8-foot jumper from the right baseline to give the Rockets a five-point cushion going into the fourth quarter. Oberschmidt then scored nine of McNicholas' first 11 points in the fourth quarter to help keep the Wolverines at bay.

        “After the first half, we felt like we could win the game,” Oberschmidt said. “We knew that if we played hard and played to our potential, we could put the game away. I just had to tell myself to not be intimidated by their size.”

        Ashley Clark added 15 points for McNicholas while pulling in 14 rebounds.

        “We knew it was going to be a physical game,” Clark said. “We knew we could do it from the beginning. We just had to prove ourselves.”

        McNICHOLAS (66) — Flammer 2 0 4, Hornschemeier 3 3 9, B. Clark 2 2 6, A. Clark 4 7 15, Oberschmidt 11 1 23, Breving 1 7 9. Totals: 23 20 66.

        DAYTON DUNBAR (53) — Davis 2 0 4, Howard 3 4 10, Baldwin 6 0 16, Blunt 1 2 5, Johnson 3 8 14, Benson 1 2 4. Totals: 16 16 53.

        McNicholas ....... 13  16  14  23—66

        Dayton Dunbar ....... 11  12  17  13—53

        3-pointers: D -- Baldwin 4, Blunt. Records: M 20-6, D 22-4.

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