NEW PHILADELPHIA - Shadyside head coach Tina Yates built her 2012-13 schedule with the district tournament in mind.
The Lady Tigers knew the likes of Hiland, Zanesville Rosecrans and Garaway lurked in Division IV and two of the three could stand in the way if they were going to make another run deep into March.
And Shadyside battled its way through the rugged, regular-season schedule to a 15-7 record and cruised to the Division IV District Tournament inside the Quakers' Gymnasium.
SHADYSIDE’S KARLI Bonar (22) takes aim at another three-pointer during the Lady Tigers’ loss to Bishop Rosecrans Thursday night in New Philadelphia. The senior established a new single-season state mark for three-point goals. She knocked down five Thursday night.
SHADYSIDE’S HAYLEY Holenka (3) drives to the basket Thursday night against Bishop Rosecrans in Division IV?district tournament action in New Philadelphia.
However, Yates, the Lady Tigers and their droves of fans, which made the trip, never expected the results they saw Thursday evening.
"We've worked all summer and from square one for the district," Yates said. "We knew we had to be on top of our game and we just didn't have that."
Shadyside dug itself a hole it was never able to climb out of as it watched Zanesville Rosecrans come out on fire en route to an 18-5 lead after one and basically, outside of a few mini runs during the course of the second half, never looked back before posting a 54-41 victory and earning a spot in the district final on Saturday evening against Hiland, which dispatched River in the opener.
"From the get-go, we were never in sync, the five of them were never on the same page and the little things we'd worked on, we didn't do," said a seemingly stunned Yates outside of the Lady Tigers' lockerroom. "Rosecrans made us pay. We've spent a lot of time working for this game ... I don't know. We just never got into any kind of flow."
Rosecrans (23-2) surged ahead on a hot shooting, 8-of-15 in the opening quarter, including two bonus baskets by Alexis Kirkbride.
All told, the Lady Bishops had five players crack the scoring column, while only senior Hayley Holenka found the bottom of the net for Shadyside.
"We got off to a good start, which was very important," said Rosecrans head coach Gale Kirkbride. "Our defense was solid the whole game and we made (Karli Bonar and Holenka) work for everything they got. I thought we did a good job inside, too. Both, on the boards and scoring the ball."
Rosecrans kept pouring it on in the second quarter, taking a 30-14 lead into the lockerroom at half. The lead actually swelled to as many as 17 early in the third quarter before Shadyside was finally able to get on a run of its own.
With the Lady Bishops in charge, 33-16, the Lady Tigers proceeded to score 13 of the game's next 15 to get within six.
During the stretch, Bonar cashed in her second and third 3-pointers of the game, which in the process gave her the OHSAA single-season record at 108. Holenka scored five of her 14 in the third.
Shadyside had a chance to inch closer when Holenka recorded a steal and appeared to be headed for a layup when talented junior Molly Nash raced back and stripped Holenka on the way up. The Lady Bishops then scored the final five points of the third, making it a 40-29 reading.
"That was a huge momentum swing," Yates said. "It was like everytime we had an opportunity, we just couldn't get over that hump to really fight our way back into the game."
With Bonar and Holenka leading the way as they've done time and time again, Shadyside continued to battle in the fourth. It got as close as seven on three different occassions, but each time, the Lady Bishops had an answer.
Khloie Johnson and Nash each produced big hoops to thwart Lady Tiger runs. The Lady Bishops salted the game with a 7-0 stretch as Shadyside was forced to foul and gamble.
Bonar led all scorers in the game with 23 points. Holenka, who was limited to just two field goals, was her top support. Rosecrans, meanwhile, was again balanced in the scoring column. It was paced by Kirkbride's 16. Nash turned in a solid double-double with 15 points and 11 boards.
While the Lady Tigers finish the season with a 17-8 record, they did watch Bonar re-write the OHSAA state record book for three-point goals.
With the five more she knocked home against Rosecrans, Bonar finishes her brilliant prep career with 350 3-point makes. This season, alone, she cashed in 110, which eclipses the state record for a single season.
"Down the road, Karli will look back on what she's been able to accomplish, but right now, to her, it doesn't matter because, for her, it's been all about winning," Yates said. "It might take a year or longer, but one day she'll realize all she was able to accomplish."
Along with Bonar, Yates will also bid farewell to Holenka, her primary running mate. She, too, scored more than 1,000 points in her Lady Tigers' career. Kristen Fijalkowski, the gritty interior player, also played her final game in a Shadyside uniform.
"Those seniors are unbelievable," Yates said. "They came in as freshmen and made a statement. They were bound and determined to battle with the older kids since they came in. They brought it all. I just want to wish those kids the best because they're great role models, great student-athletes and just great kids."
ROSECRANS (54) - Johnson 2, 4-6 8; Kirkbride 6, 0-1 16; Nash 6, 3-4 15; Chandler 2, 0-0 4; Smith 0, 0-0 0; Swackhammer 5, 0-0 10; Totals: 21, 7-11 54. SHADYSIDE (41) - Holenka 2, 10-13 14; Fijalkowski 0, 0-0 0; Andes 0, 2-3 2; Bonar 7, 4-4 23; Fielding 1, 0-0 2; May 0, 0-0 0; Johnson 0, 0-0 0; Jackson 0, 0-0 0; Gulley 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 10, 16-20 41.
Three-Point Goals: R - Kirkbride (4). S - Bonar (5)
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com