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Ryle’s smothering defense fuels 28-point win over Notre Dame in 9th Region girls basketball showdown

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Don’t let their 14-11 record fool you. The Ryle Raiders have the talent to make it back to the Sweet 16 girls state basketball tournament and defend the state title they won last year.

If the Raiders continue to play smothering defense and share the ball on offense like they did in a 66-38 home court victory against Notre Dame on Saturday, it will be pretty hard for anyone to stop them from winning a third straight 9th Region championship in March.

Notre Dame guard Riley Hemmer tries to dribble past Austin Johnson of Ryle. (Photo by Ted Jackson)

“I was so proud of the way they played tonight,” said Ryle coach Katie Haitz. “As a whole and as a team, everybody did what they were supposed to do. When you do that, it helps so much because everybody is in sync and knows what’s going on.”

Ryle’s margin of victory in Saturday’s game was surprising based on how the two 9th Region rivals were ranked.

In last week’s Associated Press state poll, Notre Dame (18-4) was voted No. 8 because of its glowing record and Ryle didn’t even make the top 10. The statewide power ratings that take into account strength of schedule listed Ryle at No. 2 and Notre Dame at No. 10 with less than three computer points separating them.

But the Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead, extended the margin to 30-15 by halftime and put the game away with a 19-8 scoring run in the third quarter.

“We definitely knew tonight was a big game for us and we came out and wanted to show them,” said Ryle senior point guard Maddie Scherr.

No statistics were available after the game, but Notre Dame getting just 12 field goals in 32 minutes shows how much the Pandas struggled against Ryle’s aggressive trapping defense. When the Raiders forced a turnover or pulled down a defensive rebound, it often triggered a fast-break scoring opportunity.

Senior point guard Maddie Scherr was one of four double-figure scorers for Ryle. (Photo by Ted Jackson)

“Our defense directly feeds into our offense,” Scherr said. “If we play good defense, we’re going to get open shots with the players we have. We knew coming out we could pressure them and they wouldn’t be able to handle it, so that was our goal.”

Scherr scored 12 of her 14 points in the first half, including three 3-point goals. In the second half, the savvy point guard distributed the ball so well that three of her teammates joined her on the double-figure scorers list.

Ryle freshman guard Abby Holtman took game-high honors with 20 points. In the third quarter, she made back-to-back 3-point shots off assists by Scherr. Junior guard Brie Crittendon finished with 14 points and senior guard Jaiden Douthitt had 10.

Holtman is averaging nine points per game in her first season as a varsity starter. She helped offset the graduation of five seniors on last year’s state championship team, including two starters.

“Each player is an important piece and they’ve been getting better as a unit,” coach Haitz said. “And that’s always our goal. By the end of the season, can we get better as a unit so that we can push for our goal, which is always to try and get to state.”

After Saturday’s game, Scherr received the jersey she’ll wear when she plays in the McDonald’s All-American Games on April 1 in Houston. She is the first Northern Kentucky girl ever selected for the games that showcase the top basketball players in the nation.

Scherr was widely recruited by major college programs before signing a letter of intent with the University of Oregon, a team that’s currently ranked No. 3 in NCAA Division I. When her senior season comes to an end, she will hold Ryle team records in career scoring, rebounding, assists and steals.

RYLE                 13  17  19  17 — 66
NOTRE DAME    9    6   8   15 — 38

RYLE (14-11): Crittendon 5 3 14, Scherr 3 5 14, Eubank 1 0 2, Holtman 7 3 20, Douthitt 4 0 10, Crist 3 0 6. Totals: 23 11 66.

NOTRE DAME (18-4): Feldman 1 2 4, Thelen 2 3 8, MacKnight 1 0 2, Bradshaw 3 4 10, Aytes 1 0 2, Hicks 3 2 8, Hemmer 0 2 2, Breeze 1 0 2. Totals: 12 13 38.

3-pointers: R — Scherr 3, Holtman 3, Douthitt 2, Crittendon. ND — Thelen.

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