GNADENHUTTEN -- There will be a "fresh" face at the Div. II Zanesville Regional.
Freshmen Lauren King and Kyndal Howe combined for 10 of Dresden Tri-Valley's first 15 points of the fourth quarter -- when Tri-Valley separated itself from five-time defending district champion West Holmes -- as the Lady Dawgs won 54-40 at Indian Valley High School Saturday to end the Knights' reign.
"They beat us in every aspect of the game," said West Holmes coach Lisa Ogi, whose team was ahead in the final two minutes of the third quarter only to never lead again. "They deserve some credit. They deserved to win.
"But if you would've told me at the beginning of the year that we would win 20 games and play for a district title, I would have told you, 'You're crazy,'" Ogi added, her team finishing the season at 20-6 and as Ohio Cardinal Conference champions. "We had a bunch of kids who bought into the team concept, kids who were coachable. We beat teams we shouldn't have beat, in my opinion. Today was not one of those days."
Tri-Valley, without a senior on the roster, advances to its first regional semifinal since 2005. It will have a date with Columbus Bishop Hartley, playing Tuesday at 8 p.m. New Philadelphia and Miami Trace will meet in the 6:15 opener.
Junior guard Alivia Bash led the Dawgs with 16 points, while 6-foot 11th grader Alysa Edwards-Frick added 13 points and five rebounds. King had 11 points, including seven in the fourth quarter, when Tri-Valley made 4 of 6 shots from the floor and 13 of 18 free throws.
Samantha Hall paced West Holmes with 12 points, with four others between five and eight points. Kacie Leppla had 10 rebounds to help the Knights amass a surprising 26-24 edge in rebounding. But West Holmes shot just 12 of 40 total, and 25 of those attempts were 3-pointers.
"West Holmes has seniors who have been here before, a lot of kids who have been in the spotlight before," Tri-Valley coach Kurt Kauffman said, his MVL championship team also now holding a 20-6 record. "They had a lot of pluses on their side coming in but our girls, we do have a lot of talent. The hard part for us has been putting it together for an entire game."
Just once in the game's first 22-minutes plus did either team hold a more than one-possession lead (11-7 West Holmes at :47 of the first quarter). But after Edwards-Frick was whistled for her fourth foul with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter -- much to the dismay of Tri-Valley's coaching staff and fans -- the Dawgs played inspired and scored eight in a row to eventually lead 31-27 entering the fourth quarter.
King and Howe each scored hoops in the first couple minutes of the fourth quarter, assisting each other on the baskets, to help Tri-Valley lead 35-29 and clearly gain confidence. And when King later drove the left side and tossed in a tough left-handed runner, it was 41-34 with 2:47 to go and seemed like it was going to be a Dawgs' day. West Holmes got no closer.
"We needed to attack," Ogi said. "Late in the game, obviously, we had to put up the 3. That's not our strength, though. Our strength is playing defense, but honestly, we got lost way too much on that end today. Like I said, they just beat us in every aspect."
In the first half, West Holmes' Celeste Ryman, who had been hot shooting of late, got free and drained a pair of 3-pointers. But she was 0 of 8 from 3 thereafter, and the Knights 7 of 26 overall after Ryman's 3 tied it at 18 with 36 seconds left in the second quarter.
"I do feel like we took away what they wanted to do offensively. They want to break you down with the extra pass, be patient and work for a good one," Kauffman said.
"We made them shoot the 3, and a lot of times early in the possession. Fortunately they didn't go in and we rebounded them."