The three keys for Minster Thursday were simple. Keep the opponent in front to cut down drives, keep a high-hand up to affect outside shots and rebound.
Mission accomplished. Convincingly.
In a featured match-up pitting Ohio’s top two girls basketball teams in Division IV, the clash never materialized into the slugfest most thought it would. Minster crushed that prospect - and Waterford.
Ranked No. 1 in the MaxPreps state computer rankings, Minster held Waterford, ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll, to its lowest output of the season en route to a 46-31 win at the 43rd annual OHSAA girls basketball state tournament inside Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
Minster (25-3) faces Ottoville (27-2) in Saturday’s D-IV state final at 10:45 a.m. Minster beat Ottoville 55-54 in the regular season.
Waterford, which had won 26 straight games, finishes 26-2.
It was the first time Waterford (averaging 57 points) failed to reach 45.
“That was quite a ballgame by us defensively,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. “We went 10 deep. Waterford’s coach said that we might lose a little on offense when we go 10 deep, but we don’t lose anything on defense. That’s a credit to the girls wearing black today.”
“We knew what we were getting into,” Waterford had coach Jerry Close said. “We hoped to keep them in the 30s too, because I felt that’s what kind of game it would be. We got a little out of sorts and I think it had something to do with fatiuge. They subbed 3-4 kids in at a time and there was no drop-off. It showed in the end.”
Minster never trailed.
The Wildcats led 12-8 after the first quarter and 25-16 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Waterford cut the lead to six points (29-23) before Wiss called a timeout to “regroup, focus and find the right match-ups.”
The Wildcats closed the quarter on a 7-0 run. Waterford managed one field goal the rest of the game.
“I should have called a timeout then,” Close said. “We had cut it to six and they inbounded the ball and next thing I know we were down 13. Once they went back and made that run we never could recover.”
Waterford senior standouts Ali Kern (Ohio Dominican) and Megan Ball (Walsh) combined for 19 points. They averaged 28.
“This was definitely the best defensive team we’ve played,” Kern said. “They brought a lot of pressure and beat us up and down the floor.”
Minster, which dominated the glass, out rebounded Waterford 32-17 and held advantages of 20-12 and 9-3 in points in the paint and second chance points, respectively. In their last two games against Waterford and Fort Loramie, the Wildcats have allowed five offensive rebounds.
Xavier commit and junior Courtney Prenger led Minster with 13 points. Ohio Dominican recruit and senior Taylor Kogge added 10. Freshman point guard Ivy Wolf had eight points and five assists.
The Wildcats will go for the school’s 33rd state title overall and the program’s third (first since 2004) on Saturday. Minster has already won state titles this school year in football and girls cross country.
“We beat Ottoville in mid-January and there were Ottoville people who left our gym that night wanting to see us again,” Wiss said. “‘Again’ was only going to happen at one place - and that’s where we’re at.”