Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown made history Saturday, and not the wrong kind. Trying to keep from becoming the first school in history to lose three straight state finals, the Blazers came through in the clutch, beating Wapakoneta 52-46 in the Division II state championship on Saturday.
Trying to keep from becoming the first school in state history to lose three straight state championship games, the Blazers came through in the clutch, winning the first state title in program history with a 52-46 victory over Wapakoneta in the Division II state championship at
The Blazers broke a 44-44 tie with 2:07 to go on a basket by Molly Crosby and then hit 6-of-8 free throws down the stretch, including four by Erica Almady in the final 14 seconds. Wapakoneta had chances late but failed to convert. The Redskins were limited to two free throws in the final 3:32.
Wapakoneta led after the first (12-8), second (22-20) and third quarters (34-33), but could not close the deal.
HB had no such problem.
“Wapakoneta came out and gave us everything we could handle,” HB head coach Paul Barlow said. “They did a great job on the glass and they slowed the tempo down to their pace. We felt very fortunate going into halftime only down two because we felt we didn’t play at the level we needed to play at in a state championship game. We made a few adjustments at halftime and our defense stepped up a little bit in the third and fourth quarters. We hit free throws down the stretch and finally got the job done.”
“(Runner-up) is not exactly what we came here tonight to walk away with,” Wapakoneta head coach Rusty Allen said. “I thought we played pretty good basketball, but we probably could have played a little better. We had some opportunities we just didn’t convert.”
Early on it looked like the Blazers would be on the other end of history.
Wapakoneta – with a vocal and large following clad in red and white – took a 7-0 lead in the first four minutes and remained in front until HB junior Mylan Woods put the Blazers ahead for the first time 24-22 with 6:03 left in the third quarter.
HB pushed its advantage to 29-22 before Woods, the D-II Ohio player of the year, picked up her fourth foul and went to the bench with 4:36 left in the third. She returned at the 4:26 mark of the fourth quarter with the Blazers ahead 41-40 and fouled out 13 seconds later. The loss looked like a devastating blow, but in fact it allowed other HB players to step up, which they did.
“I remember being mad that (Woods) was out,” sophomore Alanna Guy said. “I think it made us all want to win it more (when she fouled out). I was a little scared at first but I knew we could fight through it and win it.”
Guy scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter to help spark the Blazers. Almady came up big as well. A transfer from Lakota West who played in the D-I state tournament last year, Almady scored a team-high 13 points. Woods finished with nine points, while fellow standout junior Alexis Dobbs had eight points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We had kids today that stepped up and played fantastic roles, especially in the fourth quarter when Woods fouled out,” Barlow said. “The experience they got during the year with the schedule we play and the environments we played in certainly helped us today. That Wapakoneta crowd – for my money – is second to none.”
The Blazers tested themselves during the regular season with games against Columbus Africentric (D-IV state champion), South Euclid Regina (D-III state champion), Toledo Start (D-I state runner-up) and Canton McKinley (D-I state semifinalist) among others.
The Blazers needed every bit of their experience.
Wapakoneta, which was representing its community in the school’s first state tournament ever (regardless of sport), continued to swing until the end.
Senior Devon Golden led the charge with a game-high 18 points, wile junior post Heidi Schlegel had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The loss ended the most successful season in Redskins history. Wapakoneta won its first district and regional titles en route to state. They fell six points shy of the ultimate goal.
“I know these girls wanted to win, but they weren’t trying to win for just themselves, they were trying to win for the whole community,” Allen said. “Growing up there and graduating from there I definitely wanted to bring home a state championship to the community and I know these girls feel the same way.”
Said Golden: “We left it all out there.”
HB can say the same.
“There were a lot of questions about this being our third time down here,” Barlow said. “Are we finally going to get it done? What’s it going to take to get it done? Why haven’t you got it done? We felt that we needed to come down and win.
“That feeling when that buzzer went off is going to remain with me for the rest of my life.”