Girls basketball: Northwestern improving under new coach

After 35 years of coaching basketball in Indiana, Rich Bagienski was ready to get back onto the sidelines.

Bagienski moved to Ohio two years ago to be closer to his grandchildren and eventually found his way back into the classroom at Northwestern High School.

The former Madison (Ind.) HIgh School and Noblesville (Ind.) High School coach won more than 225 games during his coaching career in the Hoosier state, but retired after the 2016 season.

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“I was out two years and I missed it terribly,” he said. “They’re great kids. I’ve had them all in class. I thought, ‘Let’s do it again.’ It’s been fun. It’s been a great experience.”

When the girls job opened up, Bagienski was hired as the head coach of the Warriors girls basketball team.

Bagienski inherited a team that went 8-15 last season. Through 12 games, the Warriors are 7-5 and 3-1 in the Central Buckeye Conference Mad River Division.

Last year, Northwestern didn’t win its seventh game until mid-February.

“Our goal every day is to get better at something in practice,” Bagienski said. “It may be something little, but we want to get better. I think the players have really tried to do that. They want to get better. As long as they just keep getting better, we’ll be fine.”

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The Warriors’ progress is starting to show. They won their fourth straight game on Monday, beating Graham 36-29.

Northwestern trailed 13-7 at the half, but used a half-court trapping defense to force the Falcons into turnovers that led to easy baskets in transition. They also used a full-court press and a 2-3 zone throughout the game.

Northwestern is allowing just 32.6 points per game, the best in the CBC.

“We’re a defensive team,” Bagienski said. “We’re building our entire program around the defense.”

The Warriors and Indian Lake are both sitting at 3-1 in the division, one-game back of four-time defending champion Benjamin Logan. Northwestern was scheduled to play the Raiders last Saturday, but the game was postponed due to the inclement weather.

“We felt like we were ready for that,” Bagienski said. “I like the direction we’re headed in. I think we still have to get some things done. We have to get better.”

The Warriors are led by senior Abbie Grieser, who is averaging 8.2 points and 3.1 steals per game. She scored a career-high 19 points in the Warriors’ 38-32 victory over Xenia on Jan. 7.

Junior Kyndall Berner leads the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game.

“We’ve had different kids have good games here and there,” Bagienski said. “It’s definitely not one or two people, it’s a team, which is what we want.”

The Warriors host Jonathan Alder on Wednesday and face Indian Lake in a key Mad River Division game on Saturday night.

School record: Springfield High School freshman Mickayla Perdue scored a school-record 45 points in the Wildcats' 72-28 victory over Bellefontaine on Monday night, breaking the previous mark of 40 points she set last year against Yellow Springs.

The scoring outburst increased her league-leading Greater Western Ohio Conference scoring average to 21.2 points per game. The Wildcats are 7-6 and travel to Fairmont on Wednesday night.

Irish rolling: Catholic Central (11-3) beat Fairbanks 69-22 on Saturday to earn their 10th win of the season, the most wins in a season in a decade. Guard Meghan Foster tied a school record with 11 assists, tying former Irish players Tiffany King and MIchelle Ansley.

The Irish travel to Greenon for a key Ohio Heritage Conference South Division game on Saturday night.

Kenton Trail showdown: Tecumseh (7-3, 4-0 CBC Kenton Trail) travels to London (11-2, 3-1) on Saturday for a key CBC Kenton Trail divsion matchup.

The Arrows beat the Red Raiders 104-42 on Dec. 8. Since that time, London has won eight of its last nine games.

Tecumseh won seven in a row before falling at Springboro 72-70 in overtime on Jan. 9. The Arrows host Graham on Wednesday before starting a stretch of five straight road games.

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