Updated Tue, Mar 4, 2014 10:52 pm
It took a few minutes for the AP Division-II poll leaders to get going, but a 20-0 first half run gave West Holmes enough cushion to secure the win Tuesday night. The Knights held off a second half surge from Athens to leave Zanesville with a 47-40 win and a berth in the regional finals.
West Holmes showed Athens a full court press from the opening tip. While the Knights' aggressiveness gave the Bulldogs problems early and often, their length made it tough for Athens to get good looks in the half court.
"We've been that way for a lot of people over the years," Athens coach Wayne Horsley said. "I thought we got a little bit impatient offensively."
The game's opening six minutes pointed toward a defensive battle, as the Lady Bulldogs and the Knights trudged to a 4-4 score. Then West Holmes opened the floodgates.
The Knights closed the first quarter with 7 unanswered points to take an 11-4 lead. Their momentum carried into the second, where they pressed their way to 13 more in a row, extending their advantage to 20 points.
The West Holmes defense gave Dominique Doseck fits all night. Athens' star guard aired passes, missed free throws and forced shots over 6-foot-1 forward Laina Snyder early on, as the Bulldogs fell deeper into a hole.
Doseck scored her first points on a pull-up from 20-plus feet with 2:12 to play in the second quarter to put a stop to the Knights' uncontested scoring spree. She fouled out with less than three minutes remaining and only 8 points -- well off her season average of 22.
Trailing by 17 at halftime, the Bulldogs came out on the offensive in the second half. Hannah DeBruin banked a couple quick layups, and Rachael Gilkey followed with a third fast break score to cut the deficit to 11 and force a West Holmes timeout.
But after the stoppage, Snyder answered with a running left hook and drew a whistle on Gilkey. She made the free throw to put the Knights safely up 14 again.
"Laina has a huge impact for us," said West Holmes coach Lisa Patterson. "We need her to score and rebound both, and she did that tonight."
Snyder, the AP East District Player of the Year, led all scorers with 18 points.
Athens hung around through the third quarter and had a chance when Doseck nailed another 20-plus foot jumper with 2:56 left to cut the lead to 7. But a hand check on the next possession cost her the last two minutes of the game.
Despite the early struggles, Athens won the second half 31-21.