Season ends for Knights

MORRISTOWN – Late in the first quarter of Thursday’s Division IV sectional final game at Union Local High School, Toronto’s Lexie Berger delivered a sharp bounce pass through the lane.

Josey Jones caught the ball under the basket and went right up for two points.

The assist and bucket came at the 1:25 mark of the first.

By then, the Red Knights were already trailing, 17-2, to Bishop Rosecrans.

It would be their only points of the quarter.

Things snowballed from there and Toronto found itself eliminated from the tournament as the Bishops prevailed, 66-21.

“We were well aware of how good they were,” said Toronto coach Mallory Blanton. “Without a doubt, that’s the best team we’ve faced all year.”

Rosecrans, the No. 2 seed, forced 23 turnovers using a full-court man-to-man defense for much of the game. The Red Knights (12-10) had trouble getting the ball past half-court. When they did, more trouble awaited.

It was difficult to set up any kind of offense, or take any shots from the field. Though they only converted three first-half attempts, Toronto only took 15 shots.

“The main thing,” said Bishops coach Gale Kirkbride, “I wanted them to come out, play hard, move their feet, play good defense and they did that.”

Rosecrans (21-1) knocked down seven 3-pointers with a pair coming in the first quarter from Riley Hagy. Alexis Kirkbride and Kloie Johnson each knocked down one in the second quarter as Toronto didn’t score until a Lindsay Bodnar jumper at the 4:56 mark of the frame.

It was 28-4, at that point, and the Red Knights wouldn’t score again until a buzzer-beating lay up by Lindsay Winstel.

Toronto went into halftime down 38-6.

In the third quarter, the Red Knights were held scoreless as the Bishops raced out for 26 more points. At the 3:48 mark of the third, their starters were pulled.

Alexis Kirkbride finished with a game-high 14 points, Hagy had 10, while Maddie Chandler and Johnson each added nine.

Molly Nash scored eight points to go with eight of the Bishops’ 37 rebounds.

“The girls work hard in practice,” Gale Kirkbride said. “It was a good experience for them and everything.”

Rosecrans’ lone loss came to Reedsdale Eastern on Dec. 28.

Malaysia Harrison scored six of Toronto’s 15 fourth quarter points. The Red Knights’ held the Bishops to just two points in the final eight minutes. Rosecrans’ lone two turnovers came in the fourth quarter.

“We have grown so much as a team, I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Blanton said. “They’re pretty upset. I think they’re more upset that it’s over rather than the final score.”

Bodnar, who finished with six points and four rebounds, and Katie Spadafora, who scored four points with eight rebounds, join Mykia West, who has been out with injuries for half the season, as the team’s seniors.

“They have matured so much over the past four years and turned into pretty good leaders,” Blanton said. “They stepped in this year and did a good job with their roles.”

Three starters return including Berger, who had a steal, assist and two rebounds on Thursday, Makayla Baumann, who had a steal and two rebounds, and Harrison.

They plan on getting started right away to prepare for next season.

“In 30 days, we can get started on individual workouts,” Blanton said. “I’m very excited and I think they are too.”

Bishop Rosecrans 66, Toronto 21

Rosecrans 20 18 26 2 66

Toronto 2 4 0 15 21

ROSECRANS: Johnson 3 2-3 9, Kirkbride 5 2-2 14, J. Nash 2 0-0 6, McLoughlin 1 0-0 2, Mo. Nash 3 2-4 8, Candler 4 0-0 10, Ma. Nash 1 0-0 2, Smith 3 0-0 6. TOTALS: 26 7-12 66. 3-pointers: Kirkbride 2, Hagy 2, J. Nash 2, Johnson.

TORONTO: Harrison 3 0-2 6, Winstel 1 0-0 2, Jones 1 0-0 2, Roberts 0 1-2 1, Bodnar 3 0-1 6, Spadafora 2 0-2 4. TOTALS: 10 1-7 21.