Oak Hill finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the state in Division III but the Lady Oaks will be playing for the top spot after knocking off defending state champ Versailles 47-43 in the state semifinals Thursday night.
COLUMBUS – Oak Hill finished the regular season ranked No. 5 in the state in Division III but the Lady Oaks will be playing for the top spot after knocking off defending state champ Versailles in the state semifinals Thursday night.
Despite a slow start, the Lady Oaks used physical defense and timely runs to edge the Tigers 47-43 at the 34th Annual State Girls Basketball Tournament at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
“Our kids have just played great, we’ve worked hard, I pushed them, we’ve stayed happy and we’ve stayed healthy so we have an opportunity to go into the state championship game,” Oak Hill head coach Doug Hale said. “I am really happy for our team and our community.”
Freshman guard Breanna Butler led the Lady Oaks with 18 points, including 4-of-8 from three-point land, and pulled down five rebounds.
“We just knew we had to come out in the second half and hit some really good shots because we didn’t have a really good first half and we were ready,” Butler said.
Sophomore guard Mikie Strite and junior post Rebecca Plunkett each netted eight points for Oak Hill, respectively.
Defense was key for the Lady Oaks holding Versailles to single digit scoring in three of the four quarters and forced 24 Tigers turnovers.
“I felt we could play tough defense and that is what we have been challenging our kids since Sunday when we found a little bit about Versailles,” Hale said.
Oak Hill (25-1) scored on its first possession on a Puckett field goal but the Lady Oaks didn’t score again in the first quarter until Puckett sunk a free throw in the final moments of the quarter.
Versailles (18-9) held an 8-3 lead after the first quarter.
“We had a really shaky first quarter and at the end of the first quarter I just said, ‘We got that out of the way now let’s start playing’,” Hale said. “I just challenged the kids. We were in a tough spot and we have been in tough spots all year and we’ve overcome those things and we could overcome (that).”
The Lady Oaks exploded for 16 points in the second quarter to take a 19-17 lead into the half.
“I thought the second quarter was much better and in the second half we just battled it out,” said Hale.
Versailles settled in after the half scoring 17 points in the third quarter to take a 34-29 lead into the final frame. But Oak Hill dropped 18 points in the fourth quarter including six free throws in the final minutes to seal the win the 47-43 win.
Senior forward Emily Frey paced Versailles with 20 points and seven rebounds and senior guard Karen Smith had 11 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought we came out in the first half and played our basketball we wanted and put them in shell-shock for a while,” Versailles head coach Jacki Stonebreaker said. “Their quickness (forced) some turnovers and got them back into the game and it was basically a game of runs from there. We made some runs at them and they made some runs at us and unfortunately their runs were at the right time and ours were not.”
Oak Hill, which finished state runner-up in 2004, will face South Euclid Regina Saturday at 2 p.m. for the state championship.
Regina boasts five state championships.
“I know we are going to have to be ready because they have won many state titles and we want to get our first,” Puckett said.
Added Hale: “It’s a super challenge, once again. Obviously, we don’t have the talent level that Regina has but their kids our great kids and playing the game right and our kids are doing the right things as well. We are looking forward to the opportunity.”