WHITEHOUSE — Napoleon fell behind 6-0 early and although they were breathing down the neck of Toledo Rogers much of the night, in the end the higher-seeded Rams prevailed by a 48-41 margin in a Division II girls basketball district final held at Anthony Wayne High School Saturday night.
The loss comes just a few days after being thrust back into the tournament with the disqualification of Toledo Central Catholic.
“I’m extremely proud of our effort and our grit,” Napoleon coach Corey Kreinbrink said following the district final. “We had some kids have performances tonight — some of the toughest performances that we’ve had. Really, probably in their lives and in their career. For the seniors, I can’t thank them enough for their leadership. And the underclassmen, we said we got to use this to grow and move on and see what their bar is. This is what we got to get past if we want to take another step.”
Coach Kreinbrink thought his girls handled the unique situation well, and they were ready to compete. Napoleon beat Oak Harbor 55-12 Thursday night to get to the district final and face Rogers.
“They were excited. I think anybody would be,” said the Napoleon coach of his team getting a second chance. “We’ve been playing basketball for four months. So, it was a couple days where we thought we weren’t. Once we could grasp the fact that we were back in it, they did a real good job of getting refocused and getting into a groove.”
Saturday night, the Rams clung to a 31-27 lead over the Wildcats after three quarters. They extended it to seven, 40-33, with just 3:39 to go with the aid of two buckets in the paint from 6’2” junior Ni’Rah Clark.
Rogers maintained a two-possession lead until with 39 seconds remaining, Napoleon’s Molly Rosebrook buried a 3-pointer and pulled them within three, 44-41. However, Rogers responded as Breayah Jefferson converted a three-point play the old fashioned way 12 seconds later, and with 15 seconds left, Da’Mya Boles split a pair at the foul line for the game’s final points.
The Rams tried to pull away in the first half but were unsuccessful as Napoleon stayed on their heels.
The Wildcats got to within 12-10 at the end of the first quarter by way of a Makayla Kruse 3-pointer in the final five seconds.
Rogers held a six point lead (21-15) with around three minutes left in the half when Clark scored inside. But Napoleon responded with a Sophie Chipps steal and score then two Rosebrook free throws, getting it down to 21-19 with 39 seconds left.
Jefferson notched the final score of the half with a layup for Rogers and a 23-19 lead at the break. She had 12 points in the half and 19 for the game.
Clark added 16 points for the Rams.
“They’re such a difficult team to kind of keep down. Especially when they’re knocking some shots down like they did tonight,” said Kreinbrink of Rogers. “Jefferson with the ball in her hand, she is so quick. And then Clark inside is such a load to deal with. She’s so athletic and agile with the ball and really does a good job around the rim. We knew we were gonna have to score. We got some looks, we just didn’t knock down quite as many there. A couple more of those go down, who knows what happens.”
Chipps led Napoleon with 10 points. Karleigh Sonnenberg tacked on nine points for the Wildcats.
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