A challenge, a hurdle, too big as it turned out…as Fostoria St. Wendelin and Kamryn Troike spoiled Jackson Center’s title run in the semis.
Columbus –They say there’s no regret over an unhappy outcome…if you know you gave it your best shot.
Well, that was Jackson Center coach Scott Doseck’s story following Friday’s 47-37 loss to Fostoria St. Wendelin in the girls Division IV semi-finals at Value City Arena…and he was sticking to it. Sometimes, the challenge is just too big!
As it turned out such was the case as St. Wendelin’s 6’4″ post player Kamryn Troike hung 24 points, 17 rebounds, and 8 blocked shots on the Tigers…who simply had no physical answer for someone four inches taller and 50 pounds bigger than their biggest counter.
In a physically demanding, rough and tumble 32 minutes of basketball, Troike emerged not only as a Division IV finalist in Saturday’s championship game with Waterford…but king of the mountain, as well.
Jackson, and Doseck, did all in their power. They doubled, and occasionally they tripled the 6’4″ senior. They knocked and banged with her around the rim. But still, you just can’t play against size like that…when you can’t practice against size like that!
“We expected them to double her,” said Fostoria coach Aaron Smith. “We expected them to make it tough for us to get her the ball. Maybe not as tough as it was, but it was tough. They (Jackson Center) played us very physical.”
It was the focus of an offense that Smith explained to be not very original, Pretty obvious, in fact.
“We want to get the ball to Kam and in the hands of our guard, Allie Rutter (who scored 11 points of her own),” said Smith. “Kam is a good shooter and Allie does a good job of driving the ball to the rim and getting fouled; and she’s a terrific free throw shooter.
“Actually, I don’t know that we’re all that good. We’re not a back-to-back kind of team that can play two days in a row. We don’t sub and our other three girls are just good enough to get the job done if someone tries to take Kam and Allie out of the game. We probably could use an ice bath to refresh our legs before we have to play (Waterford) tomorrow.”
Jackson Center’s bigs, Olivia Clark and company, did their best, and made an impression on Fostoria’s Troike.
“I’m accustomed to the physical play,” said Troike. “I see it every day. But today was REALLY physical. I was down on the floor a lot, but that’s the way it is. That’s what I have to do for my team.”
And as the game wore on, and Jackson cut into a third quarter 10-point deficit, emotions became a bit raw as the officials simply let them play.
The Tigers, behind a 14-point peformance by Nicole Fogt and 10 points from Pauline Meyer, cut the lead to four. Smith and the Mohawks kept pumping the ball inside to Troike. She drew a crowd and she drew contact, and finally let her emotions show at the outset of the fourth quarter…and was assessed a technical foul.
Still, Jackson couldn’t turn the technical into points or a change in momentum on the ensuing possession.
“We made a run in the third, but just came up a little short when it came to getting some loose balls,” said Doseck, who was magnanimous to give credit for the skills possessed by Toike and the game plan to make the most of them.
“She was a big girl,” added Doseck. “And we really didn’t know how big she was until we stepped on the floor. You really can’t practice against size like that, so we brought our high school principal in this week, who’s 6’8” and practice against him.
“They ran their game plan. They wanted to get the ball to her as many times as possible. Our job was to keep that from happening and today it didn’t happen. She’s big, but she has excellent hands. She catches the ball well in traffic and they got the high-percentage shots. We knew that we had to make our outside shots today and they just weren’t falling.”
Statistically, the numbers more than bear him out. The Tigers finished shooting 24.5% from the floor, and just 4 of 18 from behind the arc…22% They were more than respectable from the foul line, but didn’t get there enough, a point expressed vociferously by a huge partisan following that made the trip from Jackson Center. The Tigers connected on 9 of their 12 free throw attempts.
As disappointing as the outcome was, Doseck and his players held their head high as they considered their season, their tournament run, and the reality of trying to play big…when you’re not big enough!
“We weren’t intimidated,” said Nicole Fogt. “We weren’t afraid to challenge her (Toike). We were willing to take the contact.”
“She was just too big for us,” added Pauline Meyer, with a respectful smile.
Aaron Smith was kind of glib about St. Wendelin’s chances against what’s sure to be a heavily-favored Waterford in Saturday’s final.
“I guess we owe Arlington and Carey (favored teams they had beaten in the tournament) to come in here and win at least one,” he said. “No one thought we’d beat them, either. Waterford is going to present a number of problems for us.”
Scott Doseck was proud of his team, their effort, and their journey.
“Our girls gave a great effort. They battled,” he said. “Our game plan was to face guard her (Troike) and when the ball was in the air bring two, three, four…whatever it took. It just wasn’t enough today.”
They finished their year at 21-8, and in a position at the end that few expected. But to the question as to regrets, or changes if they could have a do-over…..?
“Sometimes you get to the loose balls and things work out, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen,” said Nicole Fogt. “But you just have to keep playing. Sometimes you can’t control things.”
“We have no regrets,” said Doseck with a smile. “None at all. No one saw us getting this far. I’m proud of these girls.”
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