In the Division II state semifinal match up between Wapakoneta and Warsaw River View characterized by physical defense, something eventually had to give. And fortunately for Wapakoneta, it was River View that gave way down the stretch as the Redskins advanced to the Saturday’s state title game with a 40-31 win.
COLUMBUS – In the Division II state semifinal match up between Wapakoneta and Warsaw River View characterized by physical defense, something eventually had to give.
And fortunately for Wapakoneta, it was River View that gave way down the stretch as the Redskins advanced to Saturday’s state title game with a 40-31 win in the 34th Annual State Girls Basketball Tournament at Ohio State’ Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Leading River View 23-22 at the start of the fourth quarter, Wapakoneta outscored the Lady Bears 17-9 in the final frame to seal the victory.
“I thought River View did a nice job of disrupting our offense,” Wapakoneta head coach Rusty Allen said. “Our timing wasn’t really where it should have been those first three quarters.
“We just talked a little bit going into that fourth quarter that we needed to slow down and I think the girls responded pretty well to it and we were able to get some better looks at the basket.”
Wapakoneta was led by senior point guard Devon Golden with 13 points and eight rebounds. She also sunk 7-of-8 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter.
“I think we came out composed but lost our composure for quite a while there in the first half,” said Golden, who was a second team All-Ohio selection. “You try to keep your team relaxed and under control. When we struggled there for a while in the first half, I take the blame for not getting us in our sets.”
Wapakoneta (25-1) was 16-of-21 from the free throw line in the game.
“Free throws have been big for us all year,” first-year head coach Allen said. “We spend a lot of time in practice shooting free throws. We’re the type of team that feels we’re going to get fouled and we wanted to make sure when we are going down the stretch that we make them.”
Junior forward Heidi Schlegel tallied nine points and 13 rebounds.
Wapakoneta jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first quarter but River View battled back and took its first lead midway through the second quarter.
The Lady Bears clung to a 4-point lead in the final minute of the first half but Wapakoneta tied the game on two quick field goals – the first two of the quarter for the Redskins – to knot the game 15-15 heading into the break.
Frustrations mounted a bit late in the third quarter as Wapakoneta junior guard Erica Bryan was whistled for a technical foul and River View post Kari Daugherty splashed both free throws to take a 22-20 lead.
“(Bryan’s) got a little bit of fire under her with that technical foul,” Allen laughed. “But we’ll take that.”
Despite the foul, the Redskins did not let their emotions get the better of them and pulled off the fourth quarter run.
“I was real happy with the way our girls played,” Allen said. “That was three tough quarters there and we knew it was going to come down to someone starting to make a play. We had some girls that really stepped up in that fourth quarter and helped gets us a victory tonight.”
River View (23-3) shot a dismal 12-of-43 from the floor, including 0-for-6 from three-point range.
“I hate for them to end like this,” River View head coach Caroline Daugherty said. “Wapakoneta played a great game but I don’t think it was one of our better games. So, you hate to go out like this but you have to credit the other team for the way that they played.
“I thought the shots we got were great shots but we just couldn’t knock them down. Sometimes it seems like there is a lid on the bucket.”
Division II co-player of the year and Dayton recruit Kari Daugherty paced River View 19 points but had difficulty in the post against Wapakoneta’s defense.
“I think (Wapakoneta) was exactly what we expected,” said the younger Daugherty. “We had a good game plan coming in but we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”
Added Golden: “We knew (River View) had a good player in Daugherty and I thought we did a good job limiting her. She is a very good player and you have to give her respect and play the best defense on her you can.”
Wapakoneta, which is making its first state tournament appearnace, also won its first District and Regional Championships this season and will play the winner of Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown and Kettering Alter Saturday for the Division II title.
It also marks the first time in school history that any team reached the state tournament.
“We’re really happy to be here,” Golden said. “This isn’t a fluke. This isn’t a coincidence. We’re here because we deserve to be here and we’ve worked to be here.”