Ursuline defeated Mineral Ridge.
By GREG GULAS
HANOVERTON -- Crestview High girls basketball coach Tanja Simione was asked prior to the game if her squad stood a chance against No. 4 seed South Range. She never really gave an answer, but her smile spoke volumes about a veteran coach who wasn't about to tip the hand she was preparing to play.
The trump card not even she realized she had on Thursday night was 6-foot-1 sophomore Katie Kibby, who registered a double-double, scoring a game high 18 points while hauling in 13 rebounds, as the Rebels defeated South Range, 46-37, in a Division III girls sectional final at United High.
"We took our lumps early in the season and learned from those mistakes," Simione said. "More importantly, we never quit and as the season progressed this team had fun learning how to win together.
"Katie Kibby has been a pleasant surprise. Tonight she stepped up her game and that allowed us to stick with our game plan."
Kelly James hit a jumper 30 seconds into the game to give the Raiders (19-2) a 2-0 lead. It would mark their only lead of the game.
Kibby's jumper just 26 seconds later tied the score and when Megan Mellinger completed a three-point play at the six minute mark, the Rebels took a 5-2 lead.
"They outplayed us in the first half," South Range head coach Don Feren said.
"Crestview is a much better team than they were when we played them in the second game of the year. We made a nice run at the end of the game but did not play like we were capable of from opening tip to final buzzer."
The Rebels led 11-6 after the first period and 25-13 at the intermission; Kibby scored 10 points in the first half.
South Range's leading scorer, Crystal Schuler, had just two points at halftime.
Kibby's basket at the 4:24 mark of the third period gave Crestview (13-9) its biggest lead (32-17), but the Raiders went on an 18-6 run to cut the lead to 38-35 with 2:30 remaining in the game.
Crestview sealed the victory, its seventh in its last eight games, by scoring its final eight points at the foul line.
Schuler finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Ursuline 73, Mineral Ridge 48: The top-seeded Irish placed four girls in double figures, scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed.
Courtney Davidson scored a game-high 23 points and Christina Cook totaled all 16 of her points in the first half as the Irish (16-5), advanced to the district semifinals against Crestview next Thursday.
"We were impressive at times," Irish coach Sean Durkin said. "However, we still need to get better defensively and play a more solid half-court game if we expect to continue on the tournament trail.
"I thought Courtney [Davidson] was very unselfish in the first half and when we play our tempo, Christina [Cook] is very effective. Those were two keys to our victory."
Cook scored six of Ursuline's first eight Ursuline points and she added eight more in the second quarter as the Irish opened a 37-21 margin.
"Ursuline is an excellent team with plenty of weapons," Rams coach Darren Garris said. "They succeeded in pressuring us, taking away Tiffany Hack's ball handling at the point. We struggled all night because of that pressure."
Mineral Ridge finished its season with a 13-9 record.