By MICHAEL GRECO
Reflector Sports Editor
COLLINS — Western Reserve girls’ basketball coach Brenda Friend and her staff are busily preparing for Wednesday’s Division III regional semifinal game against Richwood North Union.
And what has the coaching staff found out so far about the school located in Union County, near Marion?
“They're guard oriented,”' said Friend, who was named the Division III District 6 Coach of the Year. “They have three players averaging 12 points per game apiece. They go six deep and they're extremely physical. They like the dribble. We feel good as a coaching staff.”
Whatever scouting and preparation the Lady Roughriders have done will be put to use at 6:15 p.m. at Lexington High School.
Western, 22-2 overall, topped Margaretta 37-35 Saturday for the Old Fort district championship.
The game was close throughout. Trailing at halftime, the Lady Polar Bears took a six-point lead in the third quarter.
But the Lady Roughriders rallied in the fourth quarter.
A Kelsey Wyant basket put Western up 37-35 with 12 seconds left in the game.
Margaretta had a chance to tie or win the contest, but the Lady Roughrider defense forced a held ball in the closing seconds.
The possession arrow went to Western, which ran out the clock.
“Both teams are defensive oriented,” Friend said. “My coaching staff got my attention on some things. We all got on the same page.”
The Lady Roughriders have now won seven straight games, including four in the postseason.
But the only victory that counts is the next one.
“The streak doesn’t mean anything,” Friend said. “It’s a matter of keeping focused. We set our goals and are making plans to achieve those goals.”
North Union is 20-4 on the season.
They have downed London 64-37, Bishop Ready 44-38, Liberty Union 48-44 and Amanda-Clearcreek 54-39 for the Lewis Center 1 district title.
“We know that every step we take, you face a little better competition,'' Friend said.
North Union, which won its first district since 1990, received 18 points from Shanda Ridgeway in the win over Amanda Clearcreak.
Reagan Stofcheck scored 15 points and Caitlin Conrad added 13.
Balance on offense has been a key component with the Lady Roughriders all season.
Five players are averaging between 12.7 points 6.2 points per game.
Senior Erica Jenkins, the Division III District 6 Player of the Year, leads the way at 12.7 points per game. She also paces the team at 3.4 steals and 3.4 assists per outing.
Senior Casey Molesky is tossing in 10.6 per outing in addition to 7.4 rebounds. She had a big game against Margaretta with 10 points.
Wyant is hauling down at seven rebounds per game.
In the district final, Jenkins scored just two points.
“This is a real unselfish team,'' Friend said. “We’ve played nine kids pretty consistently. In the fourth against Margaretta, we had three freshman that stepped up and a junior came in and gave us good minutes. We're a team that doesn't depend on one player.”
The Lady Roughriders are playing Wednesday, which is the same night as the boys' team.
The Division III district tournament, which involves the Roughriders and Ontario in the second game, was moved from Thursday to Wednesday.
“That's the way it is,” Friend said. “The one positive is that our fans get to travel to one area to see our teams.”
The boys’ game is scheduled to start no earlier than 8:30 p.m. to allow those fans the opportunity to see both contests.
In the meantime, the Lady Roughriders will see if they can continue on in the tournament.
“I expect it to a very physical game,” Friend said. “We’ll try to be focused on defense. We've had that philosophy all year.”
Friend said it’s been a grueling two-week period, but the team doesn’t want to stop in the regional semifinals.
“In two weeks, we've played four games,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity if you’re an athlete.
“This is new territory. We’ve accomplished our first goal, but we’ve talked about getting to Columbus. This is a team we feel we can compete with and beat,” the coach added.
The regional final is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday
The Western Reserve-North Union winner will play either Defiance Tinora or Findlay Liberty-Benton also at Lexington.