JACKSON — Green girls basketball coach Melissa Knapp, always one to keep things 1,000-percent in perspective, had to admit she felt as if she were, “the luckiest coach in this whole tournament”, even in a season-ending defeat.
While the 44-30 district semifinal loss is the program’s first appearance at the Division IV district tournament since 2009, the journey for this group of Lady Bobcats is far from over.
With not a sole senior on the 2019-20 Green roster, Knapp can take solace in the fact that each player on this year’s team will be back and even hungrier to build off their successes from their 17-7 mark.
“I’m the luckiest coach in this whole tournament because I get to take home my whole team,” Knapp said, following the No. 5-seed Lady Bobcats’ loss to Belpre on Thursday. “The experience from this helps us build our program. “My kids won’t quit working, they’ll be there in the off-season. The improvements we’ve made since day one in October to now is something to build off.”
After Thursday’s season-ending loss to the No. 4-seed Golden Eagles, the streak that the last Lady Bobcat win at the district tournament stage came in 1993 remains intact.
Since their second of two district championships in program history came in 1993, the Lady Bobcats are winless at the Division IV district tournament in their last eight appearances.
The Golden Eagles managed to use their physicality in all three phases — offensively, defensively and rebounding — to limit the Lady Bobcats to just 30 points by game’s end.
Belpre’s defense indeed held Green to just 11 first-half points, but the Lady Bobcats managed to outscore the Golden Eagles 19-16 in the second half — as they attempted a comeback from their 17-point halftime deficit.
“We knew we’d have to match their physicality and their aggressiveness,” Knapp said. “We tried throwing some different defenses at them. I thought we did a good job of taking their shooter out of the game, but (Kyna) Waderker’s very athletic. We struggled to keep her off the boards. We had to give up something, but we gave up fewer threes than we did in the first half which ended up being the difference in the game.”
Belpre senior Kyna Waderker scored a game-high 22 points on 10 two-point field goals, as the Lady Golden Eagles outrebounded Green by a margin of 28-16.
“We executed our gameplan,” Knapp added. “But Belpre adjusted to it, and that’s what good teams do.”
Kasey Kimbler and Kame Sweeney each scored 10 points apiece in Thursday’s season-ending loss, which finalizes the Lady Bobcats’ 17-7 record for the 2019-20 campaign.
After a season in which Green finished tied-for second place in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I, as well as claiming its first sectional title since 2009, Knapp is measuring her team’s success based on two games with a team which continues to set the highest of standards in Division IV in the Southeast District.
“I gauge things off Notre Dame because they set the standard for our conference,” Knapp said. “I think they beat us by 50 in December, the second time we play them we’re down two halfway through the third until we ran out of gas. To me, that speaks volumes to how far we’ve come as a team.”
Belpre advances to next Thursday’s Division IV district final versus Notre Dame with tipoff scheduled for 6:15 p.m. at Jackson High School.
Green 6 5 10 9 — 30
Belpre 12 16 10 6 — 44
GREEN 30 (17-7)
Anna Knapp 1 1-4 4, Kasey Kimbler 2 4-5 10, Kame Sweeney 4 2-3 10, Kimberly Brown 1 0-0 2, Charli Blevins 1 0-0 2, Kaylee Christian 0 0-0 0, Brelan Baldridge 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 10 7-12 30; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kasey Kimbler 2, Anna Knapp 1)
BELPRE 44 (19-5)
Halee Williams 4 2-2 10, Abbey LaFatch 1 0-2 2, Kaitlen Bush 2 1-2 7, Kyna Waderker 10 2-5 22, Curstin Giffin 1 0-0 3, Kyonna Roy 0 0-2 0, Michaela Miller 0 0-0 0, Bella Padovini 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 18 5-13 44; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kaitlen Bush 2, Curstin Giffin 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved