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Hopewell-Loudon, Carey both win; will see each other in district semis

OLD FORT — For one team, there is a learning process even though it involves seniors. For another, the process continues with a roster almost void of seniors.

What happens next will be revealed Thursday when Hopewell-Loudon takes on Carey in a Division III girls basketball district semifinal at Shelby at 6:15 p.m.

The Chieftains, unbeaten and ranked 10th in the final Division III state poll, continued their forced evolution in fine fashion with a 62-21 romp over Lakota in a quarterfinal game here Saturday night. The Blue Devils then turned back Colonel Crawford 49-32 in the nightcap.

In both contests, defense was the name of the game.

Hopewell-Loudon, playing its second game with 6-foot-3 All-Ohioan MaKayla Elmore on the sideline with a knee injury, gave up a modest 11 points to Lakota in the first period. The Chieftains were so stingy, they didn’t give up that many points the rest of the night.

“We’re just getting used to playing with each other,” H-L coach Bob Gase said of a new look that now features senior Lennah Fox starting in the post. “We have different rotations, different people in different spots, we’re working on different things.”

One of the constants, however, is junior point guard Kaia Woods. And while the Raiders (5-18) had leads of 2-0 and 5-3 after a basket in the lane from Carlie Foos and a 3-pointer by Parris Hagemann, they had no way of containing Woods.

She began with a three-point play, added three more layups and assisted layups for Fox and Olivia Zender in a 13-7 burst before exiting briefly with her second foul.

In came Kenzie Coleman for a couple baskets, one off a Fox pass as H-L led 17-11 at the first stop.

That bit of a challenge went away quickly in the second period. Hope Kreais turned a steal into a layup, then stole another pass to set up a three-point play for the reinstated Woods.

The Chieftains then used the long ball as Morgan Searles hit a couple 3-pointers and Zender added another as the lead ballooned to 35-13.

“We didn’t shoot it all that well. I thought we could have shot the ball a little better,” Gase said. Told his team had shot slightly better than 50% from the field throughout the night, he replied, “Well, I’m a little spoiled, I guess.

“What I really liked was the way all of our seniors are playing in making up for MaKayla being out,” he said of Fox, Coleman and Searles. “We talked recently about how important our seniors are and it’s showing up now. That’s huge.”

Woods had a monster night with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go with seven assists and four steals. Zender added 14 points, Coleman contributed nine points and six rebounds with Kreais (six rebounds) and Searles each netting six. Fox checked in with four boards and three assists.

The stat of the night, however, involved the way that balance was built. The Chieftains didn’t have a single turnover until Woods was called for an offensive foul with 2:18 to play in the third period. They had just two turnovers for the night.

“That was something we preached about the last couple of days,” Gase said. “We talked about how cutting turnovers can help make up some for the scoring we’re missing with Mak out.

“Everybody is doing their bit and nobody is trying to do too much,” he said.

Emylee Herr led the Raiders with six points. Foos and Alysia Yonikus each added four.

Defense has been the foundation for Carey and it was again in the second-game win over Colonel Crawford (15-8). That and a sprinkling of well-timed 3-pointers.

Emmy Woods, Carey’s only senior, came off the bench and hit back-to-back 3s to close the third period as the Blue Devils gained a 21-13 edge.

They led by 11 once and by nine on a couple occasions before the Eagles rallied. Carey was scoreless for a four-minute span to close the third period and open the fourth. That allowed Colonel Crawford, behind Northern 10 Athletic Conference scoring champ Allison Teglovic, to rally. Teglovic led all scorers with 16 points and had five rebounds.

The lead was trimmed to 31-28 when Carey’s Avarie Stewart zipped a pass to Alaina Tiell for an open 3-pointer that slowed the charge with 4:40 to play. A minute later, after a couple Stewart free throws, Bailey Tanner nailed her third 3-pointer of the night to push the lead back to 39-30.

“It seemed like there were various times spotted throughout the game when (the Eagles) were making a bit of a dent (in the lead) and we would hit a big two or three,” Carey coach Phil Vaughn said. “Every one of those was big.”

The Blue Devils had a balanced look with Tanner scoring 13, Tiell and Stewart 10, and Wood and Sadie Arend six apiece. Meanwhile, the Eagles managed just six points in the fourth period, two over the final 4:15.

“We were about 10 for 40 from the floor and that’s not going to win a sectional championship game,” Crawford coach Kyle Fenner said. “You can’t shoot 25% and we were also like 1 for 18 from behind the arc.”

Carey has allowed just 34 points per game in putting together a big finish to the season.

“I know we had some doubters,” Vaughn said. “We were 7-16 last year and, when we walked out of Seneca East losing by 20-some points, we were 4-4 and people were wondering if we were going to get even two or three more wins.

“These girls buckled down and we put together a really good stretch of basketball, I think,” he said. “They really are growing up.”

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