Minster Puts Trust In Fantastic Freshmen to Beat the Pressure

Minster's Ivy Wolf drives into the lane on Thursday. (Photo by John Zwez)
Brian Smith
Staff Writer

Nursing a double-digit  lead late in the fourth quarter and its state semifinal opponent scrambling to trap, Minster had freshman Ivy Wolf, freshman Janae Hoying and junior Demaris Wolf playing a game of keep-away not far from the big outline of the state of Ohio and the Buckeyes’ logo.

It looked effortless, as Waterford ran at the young guards, futilely trying to cause a mistake. Instead after a dozen seconds or so, Minster almost seemed to grow tired of toying with the Waterford Wildcats and threw the ball to an open Taylor Kogge under the basket, drawing a foul. It was a microcosm for how Minster dominated its state semifinal match-up in a 46-31 win on Thursday.

In a sport and a time of year basketball fans are so often told by analysts experienced guards are what win tournament games, Minster is bucking that trend with the cool, calm and dynamic play of its two freshmen guards, Wolf and Hoying.

“That little keep-away stuff at the end, that’s kind of been where we’ve been at the last couple games,” Minster head coach Mike Wiss said. “They’re best friends, they’ve grown up together in the gym, they’ve played together with the Hoop Stars in Dayton and that’s where a lot of the experience comes from. They’re just so tight-knit.”

Wolf glided past full-court pressure throughout the state semifinal against Waterford and getting to the basket for graceful one-handed runners in the second half.

“I give out goal cards once or twice a month and I gave out goal cards before coming to Columbus and Ivy’s was to for her to show everyone she belongs on this stage,”  Wiss said. “How she handled it with the double teams in the open floor and sometimes to attack and sometimes to pull it out and run clock, she’s not a freshman anymore.”

There was a maturation process, with Wolf taking over the starting guard role from the start and Hoying working her way up and proving that despite her diminuative size that she belonged on the varsity level.

“We knew early in the year that in order for us to make a run, we needed another guard,” Wiss said. “We started Ivy early and we let Janae grow a little bit. Her size is a bit of an issue sometimes, but we knew we knew we were going to need her if we wanted to make a tournament run.”

When Wolf needed a quick rest on the bench, Hoying proved adept at maneuvering the pressure, as well.

“To be able to get Ivy off the floor for a minute or two and to let Janae take over is big,” Wiss said.

Wolf and Hoying still need guidance, even with all that skill and bonding time together, however. Senior Alli Fischer is one of the area’s best passers, averaging 3.7 assists per game and Minster’s best 3-point shooter at 32 percent during the regular season. Wiss said having a senior in the backcourt with the two freshmen is a stabilizer.

“It’s calming for them,” Wiss said of Fischer’s senior leadership.

And it wasn’t just Minster’s young guards who split open Waterford’s pressure. The forwards played a big part, too.

“There were times today Waterford was in its three-quarter court pressure and Demaris Wolf and Jessica Falk had to come get the ball and then get it back to Ivy or Janae,” Wiss said.