Led by junior Libby Ladrach, Orrville earned a berth in the regional tournament Saturday with a 63-60 win over Doylestown Chippewa in a Division III district final at Triway High School. Ladrach scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Up next for the Red Riders? South Euclid Regina.
A game-show host would have had a field day with it.
Orrville’s girls basketball team, behind stellar play from junior post player Libby Ladrach, outlasted Doylestown Chippewa and some overzealous officiating, beating the Chipps 63-60 in Triway’s Pit.
Now, Johnny, tell them what they’ve won!
Well, Bob, first they’ve won some sweet little medals, a trophy and the right to cut down the nets at either end of the court. But the big prize for the Red Riders is an all-expenses paid trip to beautiful Cuyahoga Falls for the chance to take on the Northeast Ohio All-Stars, better known as South Euclid Regina, in a regional semifinal game on Wednesday night.
Ok, maybe it’s not quite that bad.
“I’m ready to play them,” said Ladrach, who scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half against Chippewa. “There is so much hype about (Regina). We scrimmaged them and lost by two points.”
Red Riders coach Marcie Alberts, whose team will take a 20-4 record in to the regional, wasn’t exactly ready to bow to Regina, whose coach, Pat Diulus, was among those in a nearly packed gym at Triway.
“You have to play the best to be the best,” she said. “I’m not sure how aware our kids are of them, or even that we play them. But we’ve got to play them sometime.”
Before facing Duke-bound Shay Selby and the rest of the Royals, Orrville had to get past Chippewa, and it wasn’t easy. Despite leading nearly the entire game, the Red Riders had to withstand a wild finish.
Trailing by eight points with less than a minute left, the Chipps (18-5) actually had possession with a chance to tie or win in the final five seconds.
The Chipps cut the lead to 62-60 on a Kay Young lay-up after Chelsea Fazekas stole in inbound pass. Orrville attempted to inbound deep, but Young got a hand on the ball, deflecting it to teammate Liz Broome.
Broome, in the game for defense, threw the ball upcourt, where two teammates were, but it was picked off by Orrville’s Lyndsey Devault. She was fouled with less than two seconds left and split the free throws for the final score.
“Liz feels really bad, like it was her fault,” said Chippewa junior guard Morgan Smith, who had a career game with 14 points. “But it’s nobody’s fault in a game like that. There were so many times we could have scored earlier in the game and didn’t.”
There were plenty of heroes on both sides. None was bigger than Ladrach, who made 7 of 9 second-half shots and had a game-high nine rebounds.
The 6-foot-1 junior came in as the far less heralded player among the two post players in the game. Fazekas was recently named Wayne County Athletic League player of the year after averaging 19 points on the year.
Ladrach, with some help, limited Fazekas to 10 points and five rebounds. The Chippewa star didn’t make her first field goal until 2:34 remained.
“Fazekas got all the hype all year long and has gotten every postseason award,” Alberts said. “Libby showed she’s a great player too. All our post girls played well.”
Nobody did much of anything particularly well early on. With the officiating trio stopping play early and often, neither team got into a flow in the first half. There were 20 fouls and 27 free throws in the first two periods.
“It seemed like every time we turned around there was a foul,” Ladrach said.
Orrville led 16-13 at the end of one period, thanks to a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kelley Johnson, one of seven Red Riders to finish with seven points or more. Orrville actually made shots as time wound down in each of the first three periods, which proved huge in the final count.
DeVonne Howard (9 points, 6 rebounds) capped the second and third periods with driving layups. The first gave Orrville 34-28 halftime lead; the second made it a 48-42 game after three periods.
“We just could never get within three points,” the Chipps’ Smith said. “We would always get close, then miss a free throw or a shot.”
Orrville scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to lead 52-42, but Chippewa clawed back. When Fazekas drilled a 3-pointer with 16 seconds left, Chippewa was within 62-58.
Ladrach, struggling to inbound the ball, tried to throw the ball of Fazekas, who wound up swiping the ball. She found Young (15 points) for a lay-up and the Chipps called time-out with six seconds left. The Chipps could not capitalize on the ensuing turnover and Orrville moved on to its date with Regina.
“It’s been like that all year for us,” Chipps coach Ken Pease said. “We get ourselves down in a hole and we have to crawl out of it.”