Winning state semifinal games isn’t Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown’s problem. Winning state title games is. Saturday, the Blazers get another crack. HB ousted defending state champion Kettering Alter 53-40 in the Division II state semifinals Friday to advance.
HB remained unbeaten (3-0) in Division II state semifinals with a 53-40 win over defending state champion Kettering Alter on Friday in the Ohio High School Girls Basketball State Tournament at
The game was a rematch of last year’s championship, which Alter won 60-46. The Blazers also lost in the 2007 final to Warsaw River View.
The bad taste of 0-2 in title games lingers.
HB head coach Paul Barlow went so far as to make sure his name placard at the press conference didn’t say “Marv Levy,” the infamous head coach of the Buffalo Bills who lost four straight Super Bowls.
“With this being our third time down here we know it’s all business now,” HB standout junior Mylan Woods said. “We just have to take it home this year. We’re a lot more prepared, ready and focused.”
Friday’s state semifinal was never seriously in doubt.
The Blazers (20-6) took commanding leads of 9-2 and 18-7 in the first quarter and never let off the throttle. The lead was double-digits for the majority of the contest.
HB led 26-19 at the half and 39-26 at the end of three.
Alter, making its third trip to state, finishes the season 24-3.
“We would have played hard no matter who we played,” Woods said. “But it is nice to know we got some payback.”
Woods, first team All-Ohio and the D-II co-player of the year, was visibly emotional from the get-go, flexing and yelling after several big plays. She ended with 11 points, five rebounds and five steals.
Senior Alexis Dobbs and sophomore Alanna Guy tied for team-high honors with 12 points each, wile Dobbs added five rebounds and four assists.
As a team HB hit 48.6-percent of its shots and went 15-of-17 from the foul line.
“They shot the ball lights out,” Alter co-head coach Chris Hart said. “We saw them play four times this year and several of their kids shot better tonight than they did in those four games combined. They stepped it up when it mattered the most. Give them an awful lot of credit.”
Alter, which has won seven straight district titles and played in three straight regional finals, never found its footing.
Defensively, the 53 points was the most by an Alter opponent this season. It also marked just the seventh time in 26 games someone had scored 40 or more on the Knights.
Offensively, Alter was led by senior Mary Bruner and freshman Megan Courtney. Bruner scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, while Courtney had a team-high 11 points.
Last year’s hero junior Ashley Christie, who scored a game-high 20 points in the first meeting, was held to three.
The Knights outrebounded the much taller Blazers 32-28 and had an astonishing 19 offensive boards. Ultimately poor shooting stalled any comeback (17-of-53, 32-percent from the floor).
“I thought we played a very good defensive game,” Barlow said. “Really this whole state tournament run we’ve stressed defense and rebounding as the two things that would get us back down here and hopefully get us over the hump. We played very good half-court defense against a very, very good basketball team. They are a talented team. We knew we had our work cut out for us.”
Alter’s outstanding senior class graduates with a record of 92-12, three trips to state and a state championship.
HB will see if it can add that last credential Saturday.
“We went 24-3 and there’s no shame in making it here,” Alter co-head coach Kendal Peck said. “I think if our season ended up here every year everyone would be real happy.
“I’m looking at the stat sheet here and we shot 32-percent. They shot 50-percent. That’s pretty much the difference.”
Said Hart: “We didn’t get a lot of rolls. Sometimes you make those breaks and today we weren’t able to make many.”