The Hathaway Brown Blazers punched their tickets for a return trip to Columbus with a 45-41 victory over the Canfield Cardinals in the Barberton Regional Final Friday night.
Anthony maluso has the details.
The defending Division II girls state runners-up will get another shot for a state title.
The Hathaway Brown Blazers punched their tickets for a return trip to Columbus with a 45-41 victory over the Canfield Cardinals in the Barberton Regional Final.
Part of the game of basketball is learning from past experiences, which is what Hathaway Brown did Friday night and what they hope to do this year at state. Earlier this year in the regular season, Canfield defeated Hathaway Brown by 16 points, this time the Blazers knew what had to be done to cute down the nets.
“The first game showed us what we needed to do to beat this team,” said Blazer head coach Paul Barlow. “We felt (Canfield point guard) Jillian Halfhill was they key. The less time she had the ball the better. Alexis Dobbs did a great job keeping it out of her hands.”
“Since she’s their point guard, she runs their offensive and that’s what I couldn’t let her do,” said Dobbs on her job for the night.
Halfhill did score nine points to lead the Cardinals, but also committed five of the 17 Canfield turnovers, the Blazers defense forced on the night. The defense led by Dobbs was able to keep Canfield, who scored 80 points in the regional semifinal, from getting into their offensive rhythm all night as the Hathaway Brown defense held Canfield to only 37 percent shooting.
Dobbs did such a good job defensively, that the game’s offensive hero, Mylan Woods refused to grant an interview and insisted all reporters talk to Dobbs instead.
Dobbs would return the praise when commenting on her teammates clutch play. “Mylan always steps up and hits big shots,” said Dobbs. “Down the stretch we needed some plays and she made them.”
Woods, only a sophomore, had a game high 19 points on the night on 8-for-13 shooting, but came up with perhaps the biggest shots of her young career the first time her team faced adversity.
The Blazers were in front for most of the evening, leading by as many as 11 in the first half, and seven early in the fourth quarter, saw their lead completely vanish after a quick run eight Cardinal points off two fast break lay-ups by Melissa West and a three point shot by Halfhill.
Falling behind, the Blazers turned to their super sophomore who had the hot hand all game long. Woods hit a baseline jumper to put her team back on top, and after a defensive stop, Woods would again step up, hitting another jump shot to swing control of the game back towards Hathaway Brown.
“I told her today was the day she needed to step up,” Coach Barlow said of his pre-game advice to her star sophomore. “I told her when she has the chance to take over the game, she needed to do it.”
And she did, and in the process, sent the Blazers back to Columbus for the second straight year.
“We knew she was getting the ball the whole game, it was no surprise,” said Canfield head coach Pat Pavlansky. “She just hit some really tough shots.”
Canfield still had a chance late, but a three point shot by Bryanne Halfhill rimmed out, and on a second try to tie the game, Jillian Halfhill had the ball knocked away from behind by Dobbs for Canfield’s 17th and final, turnover of the game.
“I couldn’t be prouder of our kids and I’m so proud of their effort,” said Pavlansky. “It’s tough that you know your better then the way you played. Hathaway Brown played better, that’s the bottom line.”
Dobbs would also hit four key foul shots down the stretch to keep Canfield at arms length, and Alison Nahra hit a foul shot that made it a four point game with only eight seconds to play that sealed the win.
The Hathaway Brown Blazers learned from the past while avenging an early season loss to Canfield to clinch a return trip to state. If the Blazers can again learn from the experiences of last years state final loss, they will stand as Division II state champions.