MCDERMOTT — Life sure does have a way of coming full-circle.
Green coach Melissa Knapp swore to herself she’d never again walk the sidelines as a coach following the 2004-05 season.
With now freshman daughter Anna as a newborn, Knapp coached the Lady Bobcats to a 45-38 sectional final win over Symmes Valley in what would be her second-to-last game during her first stint as Green’s coach.
Fast-forward 15 years later — eight years into her second stint as the head of the Lady Bobcats’ program — and Green can once again pencil itself into the Division IV district tournament after its 56-45 win over South Gallia on Saturday at Northwest High School.
While it’s Knapp’s first sectional title win in 15 years, it’s the Lady Bobcats’ first sectional title as a program since the 2008-09 season — when they defeated Ironton St. Joe, 54-29.
“Two weeks after she (Anna) was born, I was sitting with her in my arms scouting a basketball game; I had to ask myself, ‘What am I doing here?’,” Knapp said, reminiscing following Green’s 11-point sectional final win. “We could walk away in ‘05 feeling like we left them a solid foundation, pee-wee program where it needed to be. I felt that it was time to raise kids — but David (Knapp), Tony Kimbler, Tom Davis and a few other guys convinced me to come back.”
Coming back wasn’t the hard part, however.
It was the rebuilding and the, as Knapp put it, ‘blood, sweat, and tears’, that were required in the last seven years that made Saturday’s sectional championship win that much sweeter.
“Even that first season I questioned whether my heart was in it sometimes,” Knapp continued. “We knew we had an opportunity, but we knew what had to be done. This has been a work in progress to build the program back up. It’s the culmination of eight years of blood, sweat, and tears. And I get to coach my kid — what an opportunity. It felt like our time; it’s special and it means a lot.”
Needless to say, Saturday’s sectional championship for the Green Lady Bobcats has been a long time coming.
Anna Knapp led all scorers at halftime with 10 of her game-high 16 points coming during the first 16 minutes of play.
The Lady Bobcats connected on three first-half three-pointers: two from sharpshooting sophomore Kasey Kimbler who scored six first-half points and one from Knapp — a bank-in three to give Green a 30-14 lead just before the Lady Rebels cut their halftime deficit to 14 moments later.
Brelan Baldridge scored four second-quarter points while giving valuable minutes as a rotation piece in Knapp’s lineup.
Kimbler and junior forward Kame Sweeney — Green’s leading scoring duo during the regular season — scored six apiece during the first half of play before finishing the game with a combined 25 points.
South Gallia cut its deficit to seven after starting the second half on a 7-0 run, as Amaya Howell’s converted and-one made it 30-23 Green before starting the fourth on an 8-1 run — cutting the Lady Bobcats’ lead to as small as 40-36.
Green would hit its foul shots when they were most needed — by going nine-for-15 from the free-throw line during the final quarter to help keep its distance from the Lady Rebels.
“I think we were on a mission to start the game and played a great half of basketball,” Knapp said. “But South Gallia didn’t quit — and it’s tournament time. Everyone’s going to give you their best game. We won a sectional game last year, but that’s a lesson you can pull from this game: you’re going to see every team’s best.”
Green will play in a Division IV district semifinal on Thursday (Feb. 20) versus No. 4 seed Belpre — 53-29 winners over Eastern in its own Division IV sectional final.
Tipoff time is set for 8 p.m. at Jackson High School.
“We still need to work on rebounding, still not satisfied with our rebounding situation,” Knapp said, looking ahead to the Lady Bobcats’ district semifinal game. “Offensively, we’ve got to make sure we have different scoring options. And we have to stay in that tournament mindset. ‘What do we have to do to survive and advance?’; It’s a new experience for us, I’m excited to see how we respond.”
South Gallia 6 10 12 17 — 45
Green 16 14 9 17 — 56
SOUTH GALLIA 45
Amaya Howell 2 1-1 6, Keiley Stapleton 4 0-1 8, Peyton Halley 0 0-0 0, Isaballa Cochran 0 0-0 0, Jessie Rutt 5 4-5 14, Jaslyn Bowers 4 0-2 11, Kennedy Lambert 2 0-0 4, Makayla Waugh 1 0-0 2, Rhyleigh Halley 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 18 5-9 45; Three-point field goalS: 4 (Jaslyn Bowers 3, Amaya Howell 1)
GREEN 56 (17-6)
Anna Knapp 5 5-8 16, Kasey Kimbler 4 1-8 12, Kimberly Brown 3 2-2 8, Kame Sweeney 5 3-4 13, Charli Blevins 0 3-5 3, Brelan Baldridge 2 0-0 4, Kaylee Christian 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 19 14-27 56; Three-point field goals: 4 (Kasey Kimbler 3, Anna Knapp 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved