During a season that produced 23 wins, Willoughby Cornerstone Christian was able to unleash a potent offense on opponents. Minster proved an exception.
Holding the Patriots 30 points below their 61-per game average, Minster advanced to the doorstep of defending its state title with a 65-31 win in Friday’s opening Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV state semifinal at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
It was Cornerstone’s lowest scoring output of the season. The Patriots managed just 12 second-half points.
The Wildcats (27-1) – five-time state semifinalists – were also state champions in 1998 and 2004. Minster, 98-12 the last four seasons, will face the winner of Ottoville and Shadyside in Saturday’s state championship (5:15 p.m.). The Wildcats beat Ottoville 63-48 in last year’s state final and 46-28 on February 4.
The Patriots, playing in their second state tournament in four years, finish 23-5.
“They did the little things so well,” Cornerstone coach Lisa Stopp said. “They were bumping cutters and pushing them out of the lane. We weren’t able to reverse it. We had glimpses of success, but not much.”
“Defensively I was really pleased,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. “Cornerstone prides itself on penetration and yes they got in between the elbows, but we didn’t allow them to get all the way to the rim or get their shoulders turned to the rim.”
Minster never trailed. The game was tied (0-0) for 15 seconds.
Ahead 9-6, the Wildcats closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run to build an 18-6 advantage. Twice in the second quarter Minster pushed its lead to 17 before heading into halftime up 34-19.
At half, the Wildcats had forced 10 turnovers and were shooting 61 percent from the floor (14-of-23). Cornerstone shot 38-perent (6-of-16) in the first 16 minutes.
Minster led 48-24 after three quarters.
Prenger, a Xavier recruit, led Minster with 18 points and nine rebounds, while sophomore Ivy Wolf, the Midwest Athletic Player of the Year, chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Seniors Demaris Wolf and Karly Richard added nine and eight points, respectively.
“They had nine seniors,” Stopp said. “That’s a lot coming back on a team that cut down the nets last year. We learned today that experience on this court matters. They had an answer for everything we did.”
“We had to trust the process,” Ivy Wolf said.
Added Wiss: “It’s what we preach.”
Minster’s only loss is a double-overtime defeat at Fort Loramie - the team the Wildcats beat 43-29 in last week’s regional final to advance to state. Minster beat D-II state finalist Carroll in the regular season finale.
Said Stopp, who likened the Wildcats to D-I state semifinalist Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, a team that beat Cornerstone 59-32 this season: “That’s a complete team. (Minster) has all the pieces.”