COLUMBUS, Ohio—While all the attention right now may be surrounding the Men’s and Women’s NCAA Tournament first round games, the folks in Ohio are conducting their own “big dance” in Columbus with the 42nd Annual OHSAA Girls’ Basketball State Tournament. Semifinal action got underway Thursday as the Division II and Division IV programs squared off for the rights to a spot on the dance card championship Saturday. Blue Star Media continues our extensive state tournament schedule with coverage from the initial tip through the final cutting of the nets.
Division II kicked things off with the defending champs from Archbishop Alter taking on Ottawa-Glandorf. Game two featured Hathaway Brown and Miami Trace. The day’s second session opened with 2016 D-IV champs Waterford taking on Jackson Center followed by the nightcap between Ottoville and Berlin Hiland. How about an overtime game, two buzzer beaters and a fourth quarter comeback to add up to an average margin of victory of just five points for the entire day? Tournament time brings out some of the best basketball of the season and Thursday in Columbus definitely didn’t disappoint. Here’s some quick recaps of all the action. Friday’s lineup features semifinals in both Division I and Division III.
In looking to defend their 2016 crown and claim their third D-II title in a row, Archbishop Alter had to open things up with unbeaten Ottawa-Glandorf. Appropriately game one of the OHSAA State Tournament made its way into overtime following a roller coaster second half that saw a 20 – 8 Alter third period followed by a 14 – 4 fourth to knot things at 41 by the end of regulation. Alter gabbed a quick lead in the extra period and capitalized on some poor clock management by OG to claim the semifinal win.
The Lady Titans actually held an edge on the boards and in the turnover column but couldn’t offset the Knights 50 percent field goal shooting for the game. Alter finished 18 for 36 for the game including a 6 of 10 performance from deep. Ottowa-Glandorf didn’t shoot poorly themselves (42.2%) and connected on 4 of 11 attempts from behind the arch.
Senior guard Libby Bazelak once again paced Alter putting up 20 points on a 7 for 10 shooting effort while knocking down all three of her long ball attempts. For good measure, she added five assists and five steals. Classmate Braxtin Miller added 15 points and eight boards. In the loss, junior forward Kadie Hempfling had 15 points on 7 for 12 shooting as well as five assists. Senior Lexi Schroeder added 12 of her own. Ottawa Glandorf finishes their season at 27 and 1.
While not an overtime game like the day’s first contest, the second D-II semifinal went down to the last minute of play with five-time state champion Hathaway Brown coming back from a double-digit deficit to claim a 48 – 40 win over Miami Trace. With the victory the Blazers move into a Saturday final with an Archbishop Alter team looking to claim their third consecutive crown. It almost wasn’t meant to be as HB could only manage three points in the first period and ultimately trailed 23 – 15 at the break. They cut it to two following three quarters before exploding for a 20 – 8 run over the final eight minutes to claim their ticket to Saturday’s final.
The Blazers dominated the glass in the win grabbing 20 more boards (46-26) than Miami Trace. The Panthers held an edge of eight turnovers but ultimately only forced HB into 14 miscues. An ice cold first period (10%) ended up a 33.3 percent effort as a team for Hathaway Brown while Miami Trace finished at 29.8 percent for the game including a painful 15.4 percent in the decisive fourth period.
Senior forward Dani Lawson came alive after a forgettable first half to lead the way with a double-double of 16 points and 14 rebounds. Junior wing Hanna Halor added 8 points and 14 rebounds while freshman Kaydan Lawson chipped in 10 more points for the cause. Miami Trace got a double-double from junior forward Tanner Bryant who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds while fellow 2018 Victoria Fliehman added 12 in a losing effort. The Panthers wrap up their 2016 – 17 campaign at 24 – 5.
Jackson Center rallied from a 14 point deficit to tie things up only to see the defending champs from Waterford make the most of the final seconds to claim a 37 – 35 Division IV semifinal win. Junior Hayley Duff’s lay-up with just one second on the clock was the difference for the Wildcats who are looking to claim back to back OHSAA crowns. Waterford did their best to pass up the opportunity to play Saturday by way of the short end of a 17 – 5 fourth period. Fortunately for the Wildcats five points was enough after controlling the game throughout and leading 32 – 18 entering the final stanza.
In the end the stat sheet reflected the final score…close. Despite claiming the win Waterford was outrebounded by four and gave up 13 offensive boards to the Tigers. Jackson Center turned it over just 12 times but Waterford followed their lead and gave it up just 11 times. Neither team lit it up from the floor with a 14 of 38 effort coming from the Wildcats while the Tigers came home 14 for 42.
Junior Alli Kern led the way in the win with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Kern was 5 of 11 from the floor but more important was the fact that stat includes a 4 for 8 slate from three point range. Classmate Megan Ball had eight points but pulled 10 rebounds in 29 minutes of play. For Jackson Center senior Cassie Meyer had 10 points including a game tying three pointer with just 18 seconds on the clock. No other Tigers reached double figures as Jackson Center wraps up their season with a 23 and 5 mark.
It’s hard to imagine that the last game of the day could top the earlier action but the Berlin Hiland – Ottoville nightcap may well have done that. The Hawks came out slow shooting just 29.4 percent from the floor in the first two periods and turned the ball over 11 times. Ottoville shot it better at 42.1 percent but turned it over 11 times themselves and held just a 21 – 18 edge at the half. Hiland stayed ice cold in the third making just 3 of 12 attempts but managed to hang tight entering the final period trailing the Lady Green by five. The Hawks finally tied things up with 6:03 remaining on a Kennedy Schlabach three. It would be the first of six times things would be knotted up before all was said and done. Hiland managed to miss multiple free throw opportunities down the stretch and keep hope alive for Ottoville who tied things up with two Bridget Landin two free throws with eight seconds remaining. Off the make, Morgan McMillen pushed the ball up the floor and found Schlabach once again deep on the right wing and the junior nailed her third three as time expired to set up Saturday’s final with Waterford.
Ottoville led on the glass 27 – 19 but doubled their turnovers in the second half finishing with 22 to Hiland’s 13. The Hawks finished the game shooting 36.8 percent in the win while the Lady Green were 15 of 33 for 45.5 percent. Hiland was 5 for 17 from deep while Ottoville connected on 3 of 10.
Senior Angela Troyer, who had a key fourth quarter, led the way in the win with 18 points and four steals. Schlabach posted 15 going 5 for 10 from the floor including 3 of 7 from behind the arch. McMillen, another junior, added 11 more. Ottoville got a double-double from junior forward Bridget Landin. The lefty put up 15 points and pulled 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists. The Lady Green finish the season with a 24 and 4 mark.