MEDINA — The Highland girls basketball team looked like the Boston Bruins on Monday night.
The fourth-seeded Hornets utilized three completely different lineups in the first quarter and continued using 15 players the rest of the game en route to a 70-35 victory over No. 9 Ellet in first-round play at the Medina Division I Sectional.
Ten of those 15 players had at least five rebounds as Highland finished with an 80-40 edge on the boards in a game that featured 103 missed field goals
(in 144 attempts) and 28 missed free throws (in 46 tries).
“At first I thought, ‘That can’t be right,’” Hornets shooting guard AnnMarie Kirchner said of her team’s rebounding total. “Then I started thinking, ‘We had a lot of missed bunnies and putbacks, so I guess that could be right.’”
The Hornets (15-8), who will meet third-seeded Kenmore at 6 p.m. Thursday for a sectional title, had a whopping 24 rebounds in the first quarter, when they jumped to a 16-0 lead in less than 4 minutes, and 44 in the first half, after which they led 46-17.
Ellet (9-13), a middle-of-the-pack team in the Akron City Series, was 12-for-60 from the field (.200) and 9-for-29 at the stripe (.310).
“Coach (Bernard Bolha) has really been pushing us to box out,” said Highland center Anna Rose Wiencek, who had 16 points and 14 boards. “Tonight it wasn’t just two girls (boxing out), it was five.”
It showed in the final box score, as small forward Haley Roddy, who had 10 points, and power forward Mallory Adams, who had eight, joined Wiencek in double figures in the rebounding department with 10 each.
Kirchner had nine points, eight boards and a team-high three assists, while Jessica Peterlin, Martha Szekely, Marlee Profitt, Samantha Catron, Julia Choueiri and Kathleen Kirchner all had at least five caroms.
“That’s crazy,” Roddy said.
It could have been worse, but Highland had already used 15 players with 59 seconds to go in the opening period, at which time the game’s outcome had long been decided.
“We started out strong,” Roddy said. “We had a lot of steals and layups, so that was nice.
“We didn’t want to let down. Sometimes that’s understandable when you’re winning by a ton, but we didn’t let down.”
At the same time, the Hornets did not rub it in against the Orangemen, who got 14 points on 6-for-26 shooting from 5-foot-3 shooting guard Brianna Soujourner. Ellet’s other guard, 5-4 Kendra Love, was just 1-for-9 from the field and 4-for-13 at the line, but her relentless hustle and tremendous desire resulted in 10 rebounds and all three of her team’s assists.
Power forward Dynasti Smith-Malone added seven points and five boards, while center Tianna Morgan had a team-high 11 rebounds.
“It’s tournament time,” AnnMarie Kirchner said. “Nothing is going to be handed to us, so it was nice to have a pretty solid start. We have to keep our heads and let nothing get to us. Anything can happen.”
Highland’s shooting was bad — the Hornets were 29-for-84 from the field (.345) and 9-for-17 at the line (.529) — but its work on the boards resulted in a bunch of second-chance points.
“We wanted to come out 100 percent,” Kirchner said. “After we got that big lead, we didn’t want to let up. It’s important to keep playing hard.”
Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or firstname.lastname@example.org.