SHELBY - New Riegel had no trouble with Buckeye Central, cruising into Saturday's district final.
For a while, it looked like South Central would enjoy a stress-free finish.
But it didn't quite work out that way.
PHOTO BY PAT GAIETTO
Calvert’s Margaret Bowers works inside of South Central’s Alexis Huffman (13) for a shot at the basket.
New Riegel scored the first 11 points and never looked back against Buckeye Central, eliminating the Bucks with a 55-32 win.
The first game was more dramatic. The Trojans led Calvert 48-37 after three quarters, and still held a 59-51 advantage with about a minute left in regulation.
But the Senecas came storming back, but weren't able to complete the comeback, falling 65-62.
The final minute was chaotic.
Kate Brickner hit a 3-pointer from the corner to get the Senecas within five, 59-54. After a pair of free throws by South Central's Anna Hintz, Calvert's Lindsay Bickley - who had a fantastic game - hit a 3 with 40 seconds left.
After a quick stop, Brickner again got the ball, this time in the right corner.
The 3 brought Calvert to within 62-60 with 20 seconds remaining.
The Senecas fouled Hitnz again, and she split a pair of foul shots, making it 63-60. Calvert raced down the floor. After a missed 3, Lindsay Bickley got the rebound and stuck the ball back. Calvert was down one. It fouled Summer Sweeting, who had been solid from the line all night.
The Trojan was again, making both free throws with seven seconds left.
"For a freshman, she does not play like a freshman," South Central coach Becky Hintz said. "For her to execute in that game situation was unbelievable."
Sweeeting finished with 20 points.
South Central called timeout to set its defense.
"We had Kate come off a back screen from the wing to the corner, hoping to throw them off with that back screen, hit Kate for that open 3," Calvert coach Tim Ritzler said of the ensuing play. "It wasn't exactly an open 3."
But Brickner did get a 3 off from the right corner. It was long, and South Central survived.
Lindsay Bickley led Calvert with 18 points, while Brickner had 16 and Margaret Bowers 11. Nicole Bickley - who fouled out with 4 1/2 minutes left - had nine points and 11 rebounds.
"The girls never gave up," Ritzler said after his team ended its season at 17-7. "Like we've talked about before, in tournament time, when your season is on the line, you dig a little deeper to see what you got. I'm proud of our girls for digging as deep as they could."
South Central (24-1) got 15 points from Alli Hintz, who hit four 3-pointers. It will play New Riegel for the district title at 7 p.m. Saturday.
As for the Blue Jackets, they flat out dominated.
And it started right away.
Kara Scherger buried a 3, Taylor Arbogast converted a layup, Lauren Ladd made back-to-back layups and Arbogast added two buckets.
Keep in mind, Buckeye Central hadn't scored yet. A 3 by Kilee Kimmel gave BC its first points with 1:09 left in the first quarter. New Riegel scored the next seven points, and led 20-3 at the first stop.
"Heck of a start, exactly what we were looking for," New Riegel coach Steve Lucius said.
New Riegel (21-2) dominated from there, getting 14 points, six assists and four steals from Taylor Arbogast, 11 points and seven rebounds from Ladd and 12 points each from Scherger and Taylor Kirian.
Buckeye Central was led by Kimmel, who had 12 points, and Hailey Hildbrand, who had eight points and eight boards.
"They brought the pressure, they brought the intensity that first half," BC coach Greg Moore said after his team ended the season at 11-14. "We looked like, pardon the pun, deer in the headlights."
Moore said he's proud of the Bucks, who won seven more games than a season ago.
"For us to come out and get 11 wins, get to the districts like this, I'm very, very proud," he said.