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Ryle among top contenders in 9th Region girls’ basketball under new coach

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By Terry Boehmker
NKy Tribune sports reporter

After she was hired as head coach of the Ryle girls’ basketball team last summer, Katie Haitz said she met with the players and they were very open to learning a new system.

“That’s been our goal the whole time, to work together and play together and see what happens,” Haitz said. “They’re playing up to their potential right now and I’m very excited about that.”

coach Haitz

Ryle coach Katie Haitz sets up a play during Monday’s game against Highlands. (Photo by Terry Boehmker)

The Raiders opened the final month of the regular season on Monday with a 51-40 win over Highlands that raised their record to 16-5. They’ve now won 10 of 11 games against teams in Northern Kentucky.

Carly Lange, one of seven seniors on the Ryle roster, said their new coach has a lot to do with the team’s success after finishing 15-12 and 12-15 the last two seasons.

“She pushed us a lot,” Lange said. “I mean we were used to getting pushed playing AAU (select teams) over the summer, but this was a different kind of pushing. We weren’t used to it being this hard in practice. It’s a lot more serious now, and I love it.”

Lange scored a game-high 18 points in the win over Highlands on Monday. She also did a good job guarding Highlands guard Brianna Adler, who finished with seven points, four below her average.

Adler wasn’t able to make any field goals with Lange following her around like a shadow. But that’s not the only reason the Bluebirds were 4-of-18 from the field going into the fourth quarter. Up to that point, they didn’t have any second-chance points off offensive rebounds either.

Carly Lange

Carly Lange

“That’s one of our main goals every game, you’ve got to box out,” Lange said. “A lot of teams depend on second-chance opportunities and last year we used to be complacent about that. We were tall and thought we just had to stand in front of people. This year, we’re buckling down and pushing them back and that’s definitely helped us.”

Ryle had a 36-22 lead going into the fourth quarter, but Highlands scored on seven of its first nine offensive possessions in the final period and trimmed the margin to 43-36.

With less than two minutes remaining, the Bluebirds had to foul to stop the clock. Their strategy failed, however, as Ryle players made eight of 10 free throws to secure the victory.

“That’s another thing coach always preaches in practice,” Lange said. “Free throws can make you win or lose games so we’re focusing more on that in practice and finishing games out.”


Highlands ended up shooting 25.5 percent (11 of 43) from the field compared to Ryle’s 39.0 percent (16 of 41). The Raiders also blocked six shots to limit their opponent’s scoring.

“Every game, were getting better and better (on defense),” coach Haitz said. “I’m really proud of the way they handled it (Monday). Highlands is a great team that attacks the basket and we took care of it.”

The Raiders are playing so well that Haitz expects them to make a serious bid for the team’s first 9th Region championship when the post-season playoffs begin in three weeks.

“That’s their goal and they work hard for it every day,” she said. “Yes, we’re hoping to be there and contend for the region title, definitely.”

HIGHLANDS   7   8   7 18 — 40
RYLE               9 15 12 15 — 51

HIGHLANDS (14-9): Barth 4 7 16, Coffey 1 0 2, Leigh 3 0 6, Epperson 0 2 2, Adler 0 7 7, Schultz 3 0 7. Totals: 11 16 40

RYLE (16-5): Scherr 1 2 4, Jones 2 3 7, Schwartz 4 2 12, Jump 1 0 3, Lange 5 8 18, Carothers 2 1 5, Miller 1 0 2. Totals: 16 17 51.

Three-point goals: H – Barth, Schultz. R – Schwartz, Jump.

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