West Holmes Girls Basketball

Monster second quarter lifts Lady Knights past Lex 38-22

Alexis Hunter gets after it and Lady Knights D leads the way to victory over Lex

Make no mistake, Lexington’s varsity girls basketball team is vastly improved since Lady Lex first-year head coach Nate Lautzenhiser took over the reigns two practices into this season.

Because of that improvement, West Holmes coach Lisa Ogi was not about to let her team take the Lady Lex for granted in their Thursday, January 26 contest in The Dungeon at West Holmes High School.

“They really play hard,” Ogi said of Lexington. “He has them playing so much better than they have in the past. I have said all along that this is a team that can be very dangerous. Wooster only beat them by one point, and they can get after it.”

For three out of the four quarters, Lexington showed how much they have improved, battling West Holmes to a tie. But in the pivotal second quarter, the Lady Knights went wild, outscoring Lexington 17-1 to create the winning margin in a 38-22 West Holmes win.

“I’m not sure really what it was in the second quarter,” Lautzenhiser said. “They made some adjustments and we didn’t quite know how to make adjustments to what they were doing, and right off the bat, we were behind. By the time we finally realized what they were doing, it was 17-1.”

After a first quarter saw West Holmes inch out to a 7-5 lead, the lady Knights went to work on the second and never let off the gas pedal as it build a huge lead.

After the sluggish first quarter, Ogi said she turned to the team’s leader and implored her to step up her game.

“I kind of got in Kylie’s (Leppla) face a little and told her that she needed to be a little more aggressive offensively,” Ogi said. “She is a kid who just has to make plays for us. When she sees an alley to attack, she needs to take it, and when she is doing that we are at our best. She did that in the second quarter.”

Sammie Hall scored inside off a great pass from Kylie Leppla, then Hall split two free throws. She also had two straight steals, which resulted in Kacie Leppla’s two free throws and Kylie Leppla’s three-ball, and West Holmes was quickly ahead 15-5. Kylie Leppla then drove in for a score, and after a Lex free throw, Kaylor Perone made a sensational pass to a wide-open Kaylee Evans, Celeste Ryman drilled a 3-pointer and near the end of the half, Kacie Leppla made a steal, lobbed a pass way down the floor to a sprinting Ryman who whipped it back into play as she flew out of bounds to a cutting Hall for a lay-up and a 24-6 half-time edge.

Hall’s jumper lifted West Holmes to its biggest lead of the game at 26-6, and the two teams played evenly throughout the third quarter, with Hall and Ryman connecting on back-to-back threes late in the period.

“We were able to make some adjustments that got our kids back into more of their comfort zone,” Lautzenhizer said. “We got out and ran, and that helped us get more relaxed. We were able to push them out with their offensive set, and we created some turnovers, but then we turned right around and turned it over. We had 26 turnovers, and that really hurt us, and they never really pressed us, so that was all in the half-court set.”

With the lady Lex utilizing a solid pressing defense and wanting to push the ball, they dug into the lead and carved it to 36-22, but down the stretch neither team could do very much damage offensively and the Lady Knights cruised to victory.

While the defense was stout for Ogi’s crew, the offensive prowess was not quite as admirable. West Holmes shot a paltry 13-of-45 for 28 percent on the night, including an ugly 4-of-23 from beyond the 3-point arc. That, coupled with a 3-of-23 effort the game before in a loss to Mt. Vernon, has Ogi rethinking their tactics from downtown.

“We shot 23 threes at Mt. Vernon, and that didn’t come out well, and we shot 23 again tonight,” Ogi said. “We are shooting more threes than twos, and we are not a team that should be doing that. Those are not good percentages.”

However, the hard-nosed West Holmes defense was again present, and limited the Lady Lex to just 8-of-36 shooting for 22 percent.

“We were able to extend them a little bit and force them out on top,” Ogi said. “It’s nice to have that to fall back on.”

Hall led the Lady Knights with 15 points, while Ryman hit a pair of threes on her way to an eight-point night, while Kylie Leppla added seven. Olivia Kearns led Lexington (6-11) with eight points while adding a game-high eight rebounds.

With the win West Holmes continued to surge toward a potentially eighth straight Ohio Cardinal Conference championship. The Lady Knights are now 13-4 overall and 9-1 in league play, holding a scant one-game edge over Mt. Vernon, with whom they split this year. West Holmes has Ashland (5-11), Clear Fork (1-15), Madison (4-12) and Mansfield Senior (8-7) on its league docket, while Mt. Vernon tackles Madison, Clear Fork, Lexington and Wooster (10-5).

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