COLUMBUS, Ohio—Any conversation involving the top states in girl’s high school basketball generally will include the folks in the gyms of the Buckeye State. While not the size of Texas or California geographically or in terms of population, Ohio annually produces well beyond their share of players excelling on the scholastic level and beyond. There are currently 58 Division-I commitments in the Buckeye State and a bevy of young prospects looming on the horizon.
The 42nd annual OHSAA State Tournament returned once again to the Schottenstein Center and the campus of Ohio State University to contest 2017 bragging rights for all four Ohio classifications. Thursday’s games featured the semifinals for Division II and Division IV while D-III and D-I took the floor Friday. All four divisions settled things once and for all on Saturday. Just two undefeated teams made it to Columbus (Newark and Ottawa-Glandorf) yet neither made it to the championship game of their respective division.
Follow the links below to see how all the finalists made their way onto the schedule for Championship Saturday in Columbus.
Day One Coverage
Day Two Coverage
It was the battle of “Notre Dames” for top honors in the state’s largest classification Saturday. Mt. Notre Dame out of Cincinnati and Notre Dame Academy from Toledo did the Catholic Church proud with their semifinal wins over Canton McKinley and top ranked Newark respectively to set up the Vatican Bowl (better known as the Division I championship game). NDA came out quickly and capitalized on a slow shooting start (2 – 8) for the Cougars to lead 11 – 4. It was role reversal in the second as Mt. Notre Dame warmed up at 8 for 13 posting 20 points to take a 24 -22 lead at the half. The Eagles got 9 points from senior point guard Bre Hampton-Bey in the first 16 minutes while junior forward Julia Hoefling did the same for MND. The Cougars extended their lead in the third to hold a 37 – 28 edge moving into the final period. Notre Dame Academy made several short runs to try and close the gap getting as close as four at one point but, in the end, fell by 10 to their southern Ohio namesakes by a 54 – 44 count.
The Eagles, who shot 44.8 percent in the semis, could muster just 34.0 percent on 17 of 50 shooting against an active MND defense. The Cougars were slightly better coming home with a 18 of 43 effort and 41.9 percent. Notre Dame Academy owned the boards 37 -27 which included 18 on the offensive glass. Mt. Notre Dame forced the Eagles into 14 turnovers while committing just 10 of their own in the win. With the victory MND moves into an elite thee way tie with Pickerington Central and Regina as the only programs in OHSAA history to win six state championships.
Cougar sophomore forward Julia Hoefling scored with versatility producing 18 points on 8 for 14 shooting while grabbing 7 rebounds in the win. Junior Abby Voss did her part with a 15 point-11 rebound double-double including a 2 of 3 mark from deep. Sophomore guard Gabbie Marshall added 12 more largely due to a perfect 8 for 8 effort at the line. In the loss, Hampton-Bey had a double-double from the perimeter with 22 points and 10 rebounds. The senior was 9 for 18 from the floor plus dished off 3 assists and snagged 3 steals. Fellow senior Mariah Copeland finished with 12 but was 4 of 17 overall including 4 for 14 from three point range. Junior post Ariel Cummings, who had a monster game in the signature win over Newark, had just 2 points and 4 turnovers but did grab 9 rebounds in 25 minutes of play. Notre Dame Academy ends their campaign with a 26 and 4 mark.
Enjoying the services of a senior class that has lost just five games across the course of their playing careers, Archbishop Alter claimed their third consecutive OHSAA Division II State Championship. Playing Hathaway Brown for the fourth time in a state final (2008,2010 and 2014), the Knights evened the results at 2 – 2 by way of their 58 – 41 win. Alter was determined out of the gate and went up early holding a 16 – 7 lead after one period of play. Hathaway Brown responded narrowing the gap to five at the half going into the locker room trailing 25 – 20. Senior Braxtin Miller posted 12 in the half on 5 for 9 shooting while Dani Lawson kept the Blazers close shooting 4 of 7 and tallying 8 points. In the third period Alter was back in control extending their lead to 40 – 28 entering the fourth. The Knights put the pedal to the floor down the stretch shooting 63.8 percent for the quarter while adding five more to their cushion and locking up the rare state championship “threepeat”.
Hathaway Brown had dominated the boards by 20 in their semifinal win but saw the Knights come away with 35 rebounds to their 29 including a critical 12 on the offensive end of the floor. Alter had been both outrebounded and forced into more turnovers in their semifinal overtime win over Ottawa-Glandorf but reversed the results in both areas forcing the Blazers into 19 miscues while giving it up just 12 times themselves. For the game from the floor they shot 24 of 55 for 43.6 percent while HB was 16 for 45 at 35.6 percent.
The two headed monster of Braxtin Miller and Libby Bazelak was at their best in their final scholastic game. Miller led the way with 23 points and 8 rebounds while Bazelak put up 21 with 8 boards of her own. Together the duo outscored the entire Hathaway Brown roster. Bazelak contributed 6 assists and 5 steals as well. The Lawson sisters paced the Blazers in the loss. Senior Dani followed up her semifinal double-double with another of 10 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman sister Kaydan added 11 more. Both sisters were 4 of 7 from the floor for the game. Hathaway Brown finishes the 2016 – 17 season with an 18 and 11 record.
Gilmour Academy made their first semifinal appearance in last year’s OSHAA Tournament and were looking for better results this time around. The first step was taking down the defending champs from Africentric in the semis and then moving on to claim some coveted hardware by beating a very well coached Versailles team in the final. A 10 point fourth quarter lead with 2:51 remaining would be secure against a less determined opponent but the Tigers weren’t going to go down without a fight. Five missed free throws, a missed box out and a turnover later and we’re looking at a one possession game with the Lancers needing to inbound the ball under the Versailles basket with just three seconds on the clock. The long inbounds pass was intercepted but an errant pass took away any opportunity to get off a shot sealing the first ever basketball state title for Gilmour Academy. The dramatic finish was no surprise as both teams had battled to a 37 – 37 tie after three periods of play.
Some challenging shooting numbers ended up as the Achilles Heel for the Tigers. A 34.0 percent performance (18 – 53) wasn’t enough to offset the strong 20 – 42 showing at 47.6 percent for the Lancers. Gilmour tried to give Versailles plenty of extra opportunities by way of the glass surrendering 19 offensive boards and getting outrebounded 36 – 28 for the game. Things were all even in the turnover department with both teams giving it away 11 times over the course of the championship game.
Gilmour junior Naz Hillmon was once again a force around the rim finishing with her second double-double of the tournament posting 24 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Hillmon was 11 for 17 from the floor but just 2 for 7 at the line. Senior sharpshooter Emily Kelley was not as hot as in the semis (6-11 from three) but still wound up with 11 while Sarah Bohn, a junior, added 10 more. Danielle Winner led the way again for Versailles in the loss. The junior forward had 13 points and 8 boards while going 4 for 8 from the floor. Senior guard Camille Watren had 11 and was 3 for 5 from three point range. Junior Kami McEldowney chipped in 10 but struggled going 3 of 13 from the floor. Versailles puts the wrap on a 26 and 4 year with the loss.
When the Division IV teams took the floor Saturday there was no shortage of experience and tradition on either bench. The defending champs from Waterford were in their third consecutive final after a runner-up finish in 2015 and last year’s title run. Berlin Hiland has been to more OSHAA Final Fours than any other program, regardless of classification, in the state and along the way has appeared in 10 championship games. Oh yeah, going into Saturday they had also claimed four crowns and were looking to break an eight year run of not cutting down the nets. In the end, it was the Hawks ending that drought dethroning the Wildcats by way of a convincing 61 – 41 win. Hiland opened the game with a 9 – 6 first quarter which saw both teams come out cold shooting a combined 6 for 22. Things warmed up in the second as the Hawks connected on 8 of 16 from the floor including 4 for 6 from deep to take a 31 – 21 lead at the half. Waterford struggled to take care of the ball giving up 12 turnovers in 16 minutes of play. Unfortunately for the Wildcats Hiland wasn’t letting up and extended the lead nine more points in the third entering the last period with a commanding 49 – 30 margin. Experience tells you that eight minutes is generally not enough to overcome that kind of lead against a Dave Schlabach coached team as the Hawks gave no ground and laid claim to the impressive 20 point win.
Hiland shot the ball as effectively as a coach can expect going 22 – 49 as a team including a back breaking 8 for 19 from behind the arch. Waterford failed to get their shots to drop consistently finishing 16 for 44 from the floor and just 1 of 7 from deep. It didn’t help that they also turned it over 19 times in the game after having given it up just 11 times in their semifinal win over Jackson Center. While little consolation, they did outrebound Hiland pulling 32 boards including 16 on the offensive end.
Senior guard Angela Troyer continued her consistent play leading the way in the win with 20 points on 6 for 13 shooting highlighted by her 4 – 5 slate from three point range. Junior Morgan McMillen added 17 more shooting it equally well with 7 for 13 and 3 of 5 report cards. Jessica Troyer chipped in 9 and impressive sophomore forward Tiffany Weaver contributed 8 points and 4 boards. Junior Alli Kern again led Waterford with another double-double, this time posting 17 points and 10 rebounds. Classmate Megan Ball had 9 points, 10 boards and 7 assists for a team that lists just one senior on its roster. The Wildcats wrap up the season with a record of 25 and 4.