Tim’s Take: 16 teams, 12 games, three days, hot dogs and Van Halen…

Image

The 36th Annual Girls Baksetball State Tournament.

The 36th Annual Girls Basketball State Tournament played out this past
weekend in Columbus at the Schottenstein Center and JJHuddle.com was in attendance with baseline to
baseline coverage. Without further ado, much ado about girls basketball….


The 36th Annual Girls State Basketball Tournament played out this
weekend in Columbus at Value City Arena. And
miamivalleysports.com/jjhuddle.com was in attendance with baseline to
baseline coverage.

Sixteen teams. Twelve games. Three days. One champion in each division. Without further ado, much ado about girls basketball….

Day One Revisited – State Semifinals in Division II and Division IV

Newcomers post 1-3 record. Three coaches with over 200 wins. Two
freshmen starters. One of two Shelby County League teams advance. And
two unbeatens go home crying.

COLUMBUS – No matter what, it would be “the first time is a charm”
for one of these two teams. And it was absolutely charming for Carroll as the Patriots knocked out undefeated Clyde 47-43 in a wire-to-wire battle in the D-II semifinal Thursday.

And Kelly Austria was absolutely marvelous, slashing the lane with
dribble penetration for 19 points and crashing the boards with nine
rebounds. Oh yes, not to mention four assists and six steals. Named to
the second team All-Ohio roster, the junior guard played like a
first-teamer.

Austria said, “I knew I had to score to win. That’s my role. We want to be the first team from Carroll to win state.”

No doubt Austria is needed to score in order for the Patriots to win.
The proof is in the pudding. Carroll posted a 22-4 mark. The four
losses were all in a row when Austria was out with a concussion. Upon
her return, the team has won 10 straight.

Another stud for Carroll was 6′ 6″ senior Ciara Triplett. She posted a
double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The Wright State signee
is no fluke. She ran the floor in transition, swatted away four shots
and showed nice mid-range touch, converting 5-of-7 from the  field.

Triplett said, “My height gets common reactions from people on and off the court.”

Carroll held a thumb-nail lead 27-26, but Clyde turned the ball over
three consecutive possessions and the Patriots went on an 8-0 run to
expand the margin 35-26 with 5:07 left in the game.

Amanda Cahill, one of five freshman starters in the tournament,
knocked down a three and then scored inside to cut the lead 37-34 with
2:38 remaining. Cahill rose again with a three-point-play to make it
43-42 with 54.6 seconds left, but unsung hero Ciara Poppa tallied four
points down the stretch to secure the victory.

Cahill finished with 15 points, but on 4-of-15 shooting.

Carroll coach Rob Berry said, “It’s our first time here and I’m overjoyed to be in the finals Saturday.”

The reigning state champs in Division II, Hathaway Brown defeated first-timer Cambridge 53-36 in the other semifinal contest. This game was ugly. Not even makeup could camouflage this mayhem.

The matchup started sluggish with Hathaway Brown on top 10-6 after
the opening frame and then turned for the worse. HB recorded 15  steals
and forced 23 turnovers. Both teams shot poorly from the field. The
Blazers shot 35 percent and the Bobcats shot 27 percent.

The highlight was 10 blocked shots by the Blazers, eight from sophomore BIG Nia Marshall.

The lone bright spot was sophomore sensation Vanessa Smith of
Hathaway Brown. Despite spasticity most of the game, the 6′ 1″ forward
was smooth, hitting 4-of-7 from the field and 4-of-6 from the foul
stripe for 12 points. She added four steals. Smith’s ultimate goal is to
start for U Conn some day. She has the tools.

Blazer coach Paul Barlow even admitted, “It was really ugly in the
first half with all the turnovers and missed layups. We came out with
more energy in the second half with our defensive pressure and did a
better job pushing it up the floor. As ugly as the game was, we will
take the win.”

In a nutshell, this game had the makings of a junior high game, not state semifinal.

Another defending state champion, Harvest Prep edged new-comer Delphos Jefferson
55-52 in D-IV semifinal action. And Warrior boss David Dennis would be
the first to admit, “It wasn’t easy. It hasn’t been easy all season.
Being defending state champs, everybody brings their best game. We
couldn’t afford to have an off night. It has been a long, tough road
with the Bulls-eye on our backs.”

The Wildcats hung tough the entire contest. There were four lead
changes and four ties. Each time Harvest Prep made a run, Jefferson
answered. However, the Warriors surged to a 42-32 lead, the biggest of
the game, with 6:42 remaining.

Jefferson cut the deficit to 54-52 on two clutch free throws by
Courtney Lewis with 11 seconds left. But a free throw by Chelsea
McKnight with 4.1 seconds left and a steal by McKnight sealed the
victory. McKnight finished with 17 points and stepped up big time when
Shicole Watts fouled out with 3:10 left in the game and Harvest Prep
ahead only 47-43.

Kennedy Boggs kept Delphos Jefferson in it with 16 points.

The difference-maker was on the boards. Harvest Prep outrebounded Delphos Jefferson 48-28.

Boggs said, “Rebounding hurt us. We tried.

Kristen Klausing entered the game averaging 18.4 points per game. It
wasn’t to be this night. The senior guard bowed out a brilliant career
with nine points, 4-of-18 from the field.

Klausing said, “I tried too hard. I started forcing shots. I never
got into the flow of the game. Give Prep credit. They are a great team.”

Wildcat coach David Hoffman summed it best, “We couldn’t close it
down the end. Too many key turnovers. But I am pleased the way we
played. The girls didn’t back down. They played with confidence. They
weren’t intimidated. They really battled despite the size disadvantage.”

The tallest player for Delphos Jefferson was 5′ 7″ in height.

And yes people, senior post player Shicole Watts (Xavier) performed
like the D-IV Player of the Year. She scored 17 points from all over the
court on 7-of-14 shooting. Her step-back jumper with the quick flick of
the wrist is poetry in motion. Always playing with tons of emotion,
Watts was mad at herself when she fouled out.

“I knew it the minute I made contact,” said Watts. “I was so mad at
myself, but I trust my teammates and Chelsea stepped up. It has been a
lot of pressure, but we are used to it. We’ve been here before. We just
need to keep playing hard.”

Justice has been served. At least for the time being.

Fort Loramie dominated Shadyside 72-28, establishing a D-IV record for the largest margin of victory in a state semifinal game.

The Lady Redskins meltdown in the semifinal against Harvest Prep last
year has been well-documented. And so, it is only fitting that Loramie
earned a rematch, a shot at redemption, against the Warriors in the
title game Saturday.

And like Harvest Prep coach David Dennis said after his team’s win,
“It’s not about revenge for them. That’s not their style. It’s about
winning a state championship, just like us.”

Shadyside should transfer to West Virginia. The football team got
beat down 77-6 by Delphos St. John’s in the state finals in December.
Now the girls basketball team received the same dose.

Simply put, this game was a bastion, something likened to a defensive
stronghold. The Lady Tigers committed 25 turnovers, shot 22.2 percent
from the field, mostly airballs, and was dominated on the boards 38-15.

Loramie coach Carla Siegel said, “The team came out focused,
determined. We controlled the boards and scored in transition. Eight
people played and eight people played hard the entire game. It was a
team effort.”

Unsung hero Tori Maurer took the starch out for her teammates with an
8-0 run of her own to kickstart the Redskins and take the pressure off
of everybody else. Maurer drained back-to-back threes and added a
long-range two from the top to open the game. She ended with 12 points
on 5-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 from three-point-land.

Maurer said, “It was amazing. My teammates found me open on the
floor. Coach said shoot if you are open, so I did and I hit them.”

Siegel said, “We have Janel and Clair and the other starters and then
their is Tori. She is often overlooked. Her teammates were happy for
her. She definitely was on fire.”

Held scoreless in the first quarter, Janel Olberding scored 14 points
the next three quarters. And the senior point guard did it the
old-fashioned way with an array of shots like one-handed floaters,
mid-range stop and pops, and dribble-drives to the hoop. She was under
total control, in complete command.

The theme of this team is finish strong. The Redskins made sure of
that, scoring 27 points in the final quarter. Darian Rose scored twice
inside and Macy Turner jumped off the bench and scored seven points on
2-of-3 shooting, including 1-of-2 from three-range.

In all, nine Loramie players scored. Clair Ruhenkamp finished with
nine points and nine boards. Tessa Benanzer added seven. Brooke Turner
tallied six and Rose scored 12 points in just 16 minutes of action.

The Redskins shot a sizzling 59.2 percent from the floor on the night.

Day Two Revisited – State Semifinals in Division III and Division I

Newcomers post 1-1 mark. Two coaches with 936 wins combined. Three
freshmen starters, two on the same team. A second Shelby County League
team advances. And Oak Hill and Twinsburg remain undefeated.

COLUMBUS – Teams that start two freshmen and two sophomores aren’t
expected to be playing for a state title. Most 15-year-olds are playing
video games. Kettering Fairmont is the exception. And Kathy Westbeld and Makayla Waterman aren’t your typical kids.

Fairmont coach Tim Cogan said, “I am proud of these kids and what we
want them to do at such an early age. I have nine 15-year-olds on this
team and one 18-year-old. I told the kids there would be ups and downs
out there. Just can’t stay down too long.”

Waterman scored 21 points and grabbed nine rebounds and Westbeld
added 17 points and 11 boards to guide the Firebirds from start to
finish in a 59-50 win over Toledo Start in a D-I state semifinal Friday.

And sophomore Chelsea Welch was “no cheese” with 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting with five assists.

The loss snaps a 13-game winning streak and spoils the Spartans second attempt at a state title in three years.

The win makes 17 in a row for once-beaten Fairmont and the Firebirds
advance to the state title game for the first time in school history.

The young pups jumped out to an 8-0 start, built it to a 14-point
margin, before Toledo Start stormed back to within 49-45 with 2:11
remaining. Moments later, Waterman took a pass off the press in
transition for the layup to make it 53-45 with 1:29 left. The Spartans
would draw no closer.

Westbeld, Waterman, and Welch (not a law firm) combined for 51
points, enough to offset the first team All-Ohio tandem of Azia Bishop
(Kentucky) and Maleeka Kynard (Ohio State), who posted 13 and 16 points,
respectively.

Waterman said, “I knew #50 (Bishop) was supposed to be good and all,
but I’ve been playing against older girls in AAU ball and I wasn’t
afraid.”

Cogan interjected, “She’s not being arrogant. These kids know when it
is time to be prepared and play with confidence. They change acts away
from the court.”

These kids play the way they talk-with flair, confidence, and a
swagger the size of Kettering. Regardless, this bunch will be around for
years to come and don’t bet against two or three state titles.

Oak Hill remained unbeaten with a come-from-way-behind 53-49 win over Elyria Catholic before 6,763 fans.

The Panthers pressed Oak Hill against the wall, leading 31-18 at the
break, until Mikie Strite bombed a three to knot it at 36-36 with 1:34
left in the third period. Taylor Hale added another three and the Lady
Oaks led for the first time 39-38 to end the quarter.

There were three ties and two lead changes the final frame. Ashley
Schuster gave Elyria the lead 40-39 with two foul shots. Then Hale
drained two foul shots to reclaim the lead 44-43 for Oak Hill. Karissa
McGrath tied it again 44-44 with 5:19 remaining.

Hale scored on a layup and Kelsey Burton scored on a drive down the
lane and Oak Hill was up 48-44 with 1:30 left. Schuster pulled the
Panthers within 48-46 with two more foul shots, but Oak Hill calmly
converted 4-of-5 free throws the final minute to salvage the victory.

Hot and cold shooting was the tale of these two halves. The Panthers
torched the nets in the first half, shooting 55 percent. However, the
second half the Panthers struggled with 20 percent inaccuracy.
Conversely, The Lady Oaks shot 20.7 percent the first two quarters and
50 percent the final two periods.

Hale lead the victors with 17 points, including 3-of-5 from long-range and Strite added 11 points with four assists.

Schuster guided Elyria with 16 points, including 10-of-14 from the
charity stripe. Emily Taylor tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, three
assists, and three steals.

Pickerington North coach Dave Butcher entered this D-I matchup against Twinsburg
with 648 wins. The veteran coach of 28 seasons, left with still 648
wins, and no chance for school’s first-ever state championship.

The Lady Tigers punched their ticket to the state title game with a 57-44 win over the Lady Panthers.

Ashley Morrissette scored 13 points, that’s two more than the letters
in her last name, and Malika Howard posted 19 points with 13 rebounds
and five blocks.

There were five lead changes and two ties in the first quarter with
Twinsburg leading 12-11. But then Twinsburg picked up the pace in the
second quarter with a 19-8 run to take a comfortable 31-19 advantage.

Nicole Carman paced the attack with nine points, including two threes.

Twinsburg built the margin 44-26 with 2:19 left in the third quarter on a Howard driving layup.

The Lady Panthers tried to fight back, but the Lady Tigers had too much Howard and a strong supporting cast.

Twinsburg remains unbeaten with a 26-0 record and our making their
first-ever appearance in the championship game on Saturday against
Kettering Fairmont.

” I thought if we brought our A game and they brought their B game,
we’d be able to knock them off,” Butcher said. “I would compare
Twinsburg to the Mount Notre Dame teams that won big-school
championships from 2006-2009.”

Twinsburg coach Julie Solis said, “This is the place we wanted to be
in all year. It’s all about focus. When you want something so bad, like
these girls, you do whatever it takes to get it done.”

Sounds like Larry the Cable Guy, “Git eeer done.”

Saving the best for last, Anna became the second SCL team to advance to the championship game on Saturday. Battling nerves, rather than Fort Recovery, the Lady Rockets shrugged off a poor start and then coasted to a 57-40 win in a D-III semifinal contest.

The first quarter had it all, except scoring. Both teams combined for
22 turnovers, 13 fouls, seven missed layups,  27 percent shooting from
the field, and perhaps, six first downs. It was that physical.

Once the “mayhem” commercial ended, the score was knotted at 10-10 after one period.

To add to the chaos, the decibel levels from the sea of purple on one
side and the sea of green on the other side, made it difficult to hear
the ref’s whistle. Talk about ugly color combination, purple and green.
Haven’t seen those colors together since Jackie Gleason’s wardrobe.

Ashley Frohne opened the escapade with a hard dribble-drive to the
hole for a 2-0 Anna lead. It stayed at 2-0 for over two minutes before
Holly brunswick scored on a stickback for Fort Recovery.

Trailing for one of the few times this season 18-12 with 5:31 left
until the break, Anna found its groove and delivered a 9-0 run to take a
21-18 lead.

Anna coach Jack Billing said, “We were out of sync on offense all
game. But we didn’t panic. It wasn’t our greatest start and give credit
to Fort Recovery. We missed a lot of shots in the first half because of
their defense.”

Rebecca Burch initiated the surge with two free throws and Natalie
Billing scored on a stickback. Carrie Watkins drained a three from the
top and then off a steal, added two throws after being fouled in the act
of shooting.

Erica Huber, the best sixth player in the SCL, capped another surge
with a three in transition as the buzzer sounded. Anna led 26-22.

Frohne opened the second half just like the first with a drive down
the lane, splitting three defenders for the bucket. Burch popped a
baseline 12-footer and Anna led 30-25.

The Lady Rockets outscored Recovery the rest of the way 27-15.

Fort Recovery entered the contest attempting 20 three-point shots a game. This game the Indians went 2-of-17 for 11.8 percent.

Billing said, “We were concerned about their three-point shooters,
but since they weren’t hitting, we didn’t have to go out after them.”

Kylie Kahlig led Recovery in scoring with 13 points. Sisters Holly
and Kendra Brunswick added eight and seven points, respectively.

Watkins scored a game high 16 points, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc. The senior leader added nine rebounds.

Watkins said, “I knew we could do it. i have confidence in my girls.
We definitely had a case of nerves in the beginning. I knew we weren’t
at our best today, but the experience will help tomorrow.”

Billing interjected, “Carrie is our playmaker. She could average 20
points a game, but she is more willing to give up the ball and get other
people involved. Sometimes I wish she was more selfish and shoot. She
is a 90 percent foul shooter.”

Megan Fogt, the one constant all season, posted her usual double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Fogt said, “It was a frustrating game. But I just kept reminding myself to keep playing defense.”

Erica Huber scored eight points off the bench. Frohne registered
another typical game, scoring seven points, grabbing four rebounds,
dishing out three assists, blocking four shots with three steals. The
only thing the senior forward didn’t do was sell cotton candy.

Day Three Revisited – Championship Saturday

D-IV: Harvest Prep 51  Fort Loramie 31

COLUMBUS
– Fort Loramie worked hard all year for a shot at redemption against
Harvest Prep. Harvest Prep worked hard all year to prove last season’s
title wasn’t a fluke.

Both missions accomplished, but Harvest Prep won the game.

After
a close and chaotic first half, the Warriors reared its ugly head and
pulled away for a 51-31 win to claim its second straight state
championship Saturday in the D-IV finals.

Prep coach David
Dennis said, “This was special. I am proud and will remember it. A lot
of people say the first time is a fluke, but the second one means you
are the best.”

Loramie’s Clair Ruhenkamp said, “We worked hard
to get here and get a second chance. Just didn’t work out. We didn’t
play like we could.”

This rematch took on a style, personality
of its own. Perhaps, one that Fort Loramie not familiar. Three college
D-I recruits have a tendancy to do that as well as the physical style of
play. The only thing missing was ropes around the court and a tag-team
partner.

Harvest Prep was firing with three loaded weapons
(Shicole Watts, Jaren Francis, and Sarah Crowder) while Fort Loramie was
shooting blanks (17.5 percent from the field). Watts led her charges
with 17 points, Francis added 14 points, and Crowder tallied 10 points.
The Lady Redskins shot 3-of-17 in the first half and 4-of-23 in the
second half.

Redskin coach Carla Siegel said, “I am proud of
this team. They made it here two years in a row. Every offensive set we
tried didn’t  work. They are a very physical team. We were the smaller
team. We did the best we could. They have long arms, quick steps, and
pressured hard. Credit their defense.”

Watts was named D-IV
Player of the Year for a reason. She plays with a chip on top of her
passion. That’s a deadly combination. The 6′ senior has a quick, flick
of the wrist release on her step-back jumpers. Inside, Watts is
relentless on the offensive glass and good at anticipating missed shots.
In addition to her 17 points, the Xavier-bound player grabbed 12
rebounds. Her favorite tool inside was the hook shot. It wasn’t a normal
hook shot. Never seen anything like it. Kind of like a shot one would
use when playing h-o-r-s-e.

Watts said, “This win means a lot. It means we are one of the best. We won it twice.”

Despite
the Loramie loss, let’s talk about the journey of seven remarkable
seniors; the joy-ride, the thrill-ride Shelby County fans encountered
for four precious years.

It all started in 2008 when a couple of
precocious freshmen, Janel Olberding and Clair Ruhenkamp, burst onto
the scene and made headlines as the Lady Redskins advanced to the
regional finals. They were tagged “the lil’ darlings” of the tournament.

Still
young and “wet behind the ears”, the Redskins advanced to the regional
semifinals in 2009. The then seven juniors had a breakout season in
2010, advancing to the state semifinals. Brooke Turner, Tessa Benanzer,
and Tori Maurer blossomed into key role players and Olberding and
Ruhenkamp performed in dominant fashion.

This season, it didn’t
even look like Loramie would get out of the regionals, the way they were
playing during the mid-season point. Injuries and illnesses, along with
the pressure of Olberding and Ruhenkamp scoring over 1,000 points,
proved to be a distraction. But this senior class pulled it together and
dismantled seven opponents along the  way come tournament time. The
average margin of victory was over 30 points a game.

Ruhenkamp
stated at the post-game press conference, “Me and Janel are best
friends. When we were kids we talked about winning a state title some
day. Well, we almost did it.”

D-III: Anna 50  Oak Hill 32

COLUMBUS
– A couple of weeks ago, Anna coach Jack Billing took his players to an
OSU game because it was Senior Night for former Anna standout Sarah
Schulze. The lights went out. The spotlight came on. A crescendo of Van
Halen music played as the starters were introduced. Billing looked at
the girls and said, “That’s how you will be introduced if you make it to
that final game.”

Fast Forward.

Green was the
predominate color and after Van Halen played, Anna was the dominant
team, capturing the crown jewel of girls high school basketball with a
convincing 50-32 victory over Oak Hill in the D-IV title game Saturday.

Coach
Billing said, “It hasn’t sunk in yet, but these kids have worked. It
all started last June. We played 35 games over the summer.”

It
was the Lady Rockets second-ever state championship and first since
1981. What a way to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Anna’s last
championship in front of coach-at-the-time Jane Jones, Jerry Harmon
(pregame message), and Sarah Schulze, among others.

Billing preached all season, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.”

How
prophetic. The previously unbeaten Lady Oaks entered the contest
averaging 67 points a game, but on this day, Oak Hill managed just 32
points on 12-of-47 from the field for 25.5 percent. As the defense
pressed and the clock wore down, so too did the Oak Hill players.

And
one big reason, Ashley Frohne, the best defender nobody knows about.
The tall and lanky junior held in check Oak Hill’s leading scorer
Breanna Butler (18.7 ppg.) to five points on 2-of-16 shooting.

Billing
said, “She does such a great job defending the other team’s best player
night in and night out. She’s long and can swat away shots.”

Anna
led from start to finish and jumped out to a 9-0 margin. Rebecca Burch
got it going with a driving layup off the opening tip. Carrie Watkins
followed with a spot-up 16-footer. Megan Fogt added two free throws and
then Watkins capped it with a deep three from the perimeter.

Oak Hill fought back and Mikie Strite nailed a three from the top to slice the lead 17-15 with 3:48 left until half.

Fogt responded with a stickback and Burch added two foul shots to give Anna a slim 21-17 lead at the break.

The
game plan never changed in the second half. Fogt and Natalie Billing
scored inside on consecutive possessions and the Rockets led 25-17, the
biggest lead at the time. But Strite drained another three and the
margin was reduced 25-22.

Billing said, “At half, I told the
girls to keep getting the ball inside. Stick to the game plan. And our
guards did a great job of doing that. I am proud the way these young
ladies played.”

Enough was enough. In big time games, big time
players step up. Fogt did just that, scoring on a three-point-play to
expand the lead 30-26 with 2:42 left in the third quarter.

The
senior post player and SCL Player of the Year, scored 10 of her 16
points the rest of the way on 4-of-5 shooting. Fogt finished with
another double-double, adding 17 points.

Fogt said, “It feels
awesome. Everybody in the community was here to support us. It is a
relief, but it hasn’t hit me yet. I’m ready to report to the gym
tomorrow.”

So true. The journey is half the fun of attaining goals.

Anna
entered the contest averaging 71.3 ppg. and although the Lady Rockets
didn’t live up to its offensive billing, Natalie Billing pounded for 21
points on 8-of-14 shots from the floor and 5-of-7 from the charity
stripe. The sophomore post player scored 17 points in the second half
during a 20-6 stretch that sent Oak Hill packing.

Natalie
Billing said, “Sports is everything in this community. It means a lot to
everybody. I was nervous yesterday and didn’t play as well. It all
seemed so big. I felt more confident out there today.”

Watkins,
the duct tape that holds this team together, finished the game with six
points, five assists, and four rebounds. After the horn sounded,
assistant coach Marlene Watkins embraced her daughter and whispered in
her ear, “We did it. You won a state championship. Something you’ve
worked for since you were a little girl.”

A misty-eyed coach
Watkins explained, “It’s a great moment. Carrie’s life has been touched
by so many people. Jerry Harmon, Doug Martin, coach Billing, and coach
Gooding (Jackson Center). She has been blessed with great teammates and
coaches.”

“I remember when Jackson Center won the state in 2001,
Carrie was there and the players lifted her up so she could make a
basket. I received a picture of that just before we left for Columbus. I
remember when Carrie, Rebecca, and Natalie were ball girls for the Anna
team when Sarah Schulze played. I remember when Carrie shot hoops at
the Elks. Here it is. Dream come true. The vision has become reality.
Kind of bittersweet because now it is over.”

So true. The journey is half the fun of attaining goals.

Nobody for Oak Hill reached double figures. taylor Hale led the team with nine points and Strite added eight.

In all, Anna scored 13 points off turnovers and 17 second chance points. The Rockets shot a sizzling 51.4 percent for the game.

Coach
Billing concluded, “I wish Loramie could have brought home a state
title. I thank the SCL and MAC for preparing us for the tournament.”

And
so, this drama needed no script. Just a story about a bunch of
determined athletes and their fans in green T-shirts with the word
“VISION” on the back, would have to suffice.

The journey is half the fun.

D-II: Hathaway Brown 54  Dayton Carroll 51

COLUMBUS
– Hathaway Brown overcame the sensational performance by Carroll’s
Kelley Austria to capture its third straight D-II state title with a
54-51 victory Saturday.

Austria scored 26 points. The junior
guard converted 10-of-16 from the field with dazzling dribble-drive
penetration between players and was 6-of-10 from the line for good
measure.

HB coach Paul Barlow said, “Austria was unstoppable in
the first quarter. I think she had 10 points. I was worried about her.
We decided to face guard her the rest of the game. It helped some.”

But
the balanced scoring of the Blazers nullified Austria’s streaky-hot
performance. Molly Crosby paced the attack with 13 points, Tanisha
Lawler and Vanessa Smith each added 12 points and Nia Marshall chipped
in with 10 points.

Hathaway Brown becomes the 15th school to win
three state titles in a row. They become the second team to reach the
state finals with nine losses or more. The Blazers record is 16-9.

Barlow said, “It was a flat out war. A game of runs back and forth. Credit the kids. They made key shots down the stretch.”

What
a battle it was with three ties and four lead changes. Carroll’s
biggest lead was nine points, 17-8 and Brown’s biggest lead was five
points, 46-41.

The Blazers led 48-46 on a 15-foot jumper by
Molly Crosby with 4:37 left in the game. A layup by Ciara Poppa gave the
lead back to Carroll 49-48. HB reclaimed the lead for good on a Lawler
drive 50-49 with 2:58 left.

Technically it was the first loss of
the season for Austria. The Patriots lost four straight during the
regular season when she was out with a concussion. When she returned, DC
won 10 straight before losing Saturday. Now that’s what you call MVP.
The Patriots finish 23-5 on the season.

D-I: Twinsburg 55  Kettering Fairmont 42

Columbus – First state appearance. First state title. No problem.

Malina
Howard was the force behind the Lady Tigers 55-42 win in the D-I
championship game Saturday. The junior center scored 20 points, snarled
11 rebounds, six on the offensive end, and shot 62 percent from the
field and 80 percent from the line.

Fairmont, starting two
freshmen, two sophomores, and one senior hung tough the first half. It
was tied at 10-10 after the opening quarter and the Firebirds led 26-19
at half.

Kathryn Westbeld paced the Firebirds with 10 first-half points and Makayla Waterman added six.

Twinsburg
outscored Fairmont 36-16 in the second half and that was it for the
youthful Firebirds, who will be around for years to come.

It was
a tale of hot and cold. Twinsburg was cold in the first half shooting
31 percent and heated up in the second half with a 65 percent clip.
Fairmont started hot with 50 percent shooting and turned frigid in the
second half shooting 17 percent.

The Firebirds finish out 26-2 and Twinsburg a flawless 27-0.

And
so, the three-day hoopla comes to a close and with it, great individual
performances, thrilling finishes, the best hot dogs in town on Thursday
and Van Halen four times on Saturday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *