Napoleon passed its first tournament test Saturday night.
The Lady Cats led wire to wire and used a dominating 12-2 third quarter half to put away Elida Saturday in the Division II district quarterfinals in the Grand Canyon.
“We weren’t sharp as we wanted to be, or as sharp as we need to be going forward,” Napoleon coach Corey Kreinbrink said. “But we found a way to win a tournament game and it doesn’t matter if we win by one (point) or 101; we want to be practicing on Monday and that’s what we’re doing.”
Napoleon, the top seed and ranked No. 2 in the final Ohio Associated Press poll, meets No. 5-seeded Toledo Central Catholic in the district semifinals 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Paulding. The Lady Fighting Irish (5-1) beat Lima Shawnee 60-48 in overtime in the district quarters Saturday.
Taylor Strock’s 19 points fronted the Lady Cats. The 5-9 senior also tallied five points, three steals — and one big scare in the first quarter as she went down with an ankle injury, but hobbled off on her own power.
“She stepped on the other girl’s foot, just kind of rolled her ankle,” Kreinbrink said.
Strock checked out at the 6:34 mark and came back in on Napoleon’s next timeout just 3:19 later.
Napoleon led 10-6 after one quarter and extended out to 25-17 at halftime.
Ella Rausch subbed in during Strock’s absence and made an immediate impact, collecting a few offense rebounds and getting to the foul line — splitting her pair to give the Lady Cats a 6-0 lead a minute after Strock left.
Rausch also scored back-to-back buckets, the first via a putback, in the second quarter to give Napoleon an 18-12 lead.
Rausch finished with five points, five rebounds, three offensive, an assist and a steal as the first girl off the bench.
“I thought Ella Rausch was one of our better players tonight,” Kreinbrink said. “She did a lot of really good things in the first half, rebounding the basketball and finishing around the rim.”
Though, the Lady Cats weren’t collectively finishing around the rim in the first half, making 10 of 27 from the field and 1 of 6 from 3-point range. They ended up 21 of 51, 2 of 11.
After starting cold in the third quarter (1 of 6), Napoleon’s Caely Ressler scored eight points in a 12-0 run to end the frame.
She accelerated the spurt with a jumper and a paint floater on back-to-back possessions. Ressler’s first shot gave Napoleon its first double-digit lead of the night at 29-19.
Strock, who made the first shot in the run, took a steal coast-to-coast for a score, before Ressler scored on a transition drive through Elida’s defense and down low again to finish the run.
By the end of the flurry, Napoleon led 37-19 entering the fourth quarter.
“We finished some shots and we could get set defensively,” Kreinbrink said. “Once we got stops, we could get out in the open court. Once we got a couple to go down, that really helped us settle down and our confidence a little bit.”
Strock added six more points in the fourth quarter.
Also for the Lady Cats, Ressler totaled 13 points, seven rebounds, four offensive, a block and a steal; Sophie Chipps had five points three rebounds and two steals; Emma Pedroza had four points and five rebounds; and Kalli Helberg had one point, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block.
Napoleon was its usual dominant self on the glass, outrebounding Elida 32-21, 14-4 on the offensive end.
That margin, plus winning the turnover battle 16-7, led to the Lady Cats generating 17 more field goal attempts.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that just go get the basketball,” Kreinbrink said.
Addisyn Freeman’s 11 points and eight rebounds led the Lady Bulldogs (8-11), who were 13 of 34 overall, 2 of 8 from 3-point range. Brooke Reese added nine points and six rebounds.
Elida 6 11 2 12 — 31
Napoleon 10 15 12 12 — 49
Elida: P. Johnson 1-0-2-4, A. Freeman 4-1-0-11, Reese 3-1-0-9, Mitchell 2-0-1-5, Lopez 1-0-0-2. Totals: 13-34 2-8 3-4 — 31.
Napoleon: Chipps 1-1-0-5, Strock 8-0-3-19, Pedroza 2-0-0-4, Helberg 0-0-1-1, Ressler 5-1-0-13, Rausch 2-0-1-5, Durham 1-0-0-2. Totals: 21-51 2-11 5-9 — 49.