The Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team finally got the breakthrough it was looking for Saturday at Olentangy Liberty.
After building as big as a 12-point first-quarter lead, the sixth-seeded Raiders held on to beat No. 4 Brookhaven 56-50 to capture their first Division I district championship since winning back-to-back titles in 1990 and '91.
Reynoldsburg will play in a regional semifinal Tuesday in Otterbein College's Rike Center against Gahanna or Dresden Tri-Valley.
The decision to move Westerville North's Josh Demas up two weight classes to 171 pounds this season had gone according to plan until last week.
Demas became ill and dropped to 162 pounds. For the first time, Demas and his coaches wondered whether the move might have not been the best. He was weak, but Demas persevered and advanced to the Division I final.
He showed no signs of illness or apprehension last night. Demas scored with an ankle pick on Copley's Sam Wheeler in the first six seconds and easily won his second state title, 9-3.
Say what you will about the difficulty of beating a team three times in a season or that the third time is a charm.
The simple matter was that fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman edged fourth-seeded and previously unbeaten Upper Arlington 50-48 yesterday in a Division I district semifinal in the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum because it was a little bit better this time. Like an inch or so better.
UA's Carter Smith rimmed out a jumper with one foot on the three-point line in the final second that would have forced overtime.
If girls high school basketball teams were part of the futures market, there wouldn't have been many buyers for Gahanna going into the tournament.
The Lions finished fourth in the Ohio Capital Conference Ohio Division, had no name players after 6-foot-2 center Haley Schmitt and were in a power-packed lower bracket.
A lot of people would want shares in the team now after it defeated fifth-seeded Northland and second-seeded Tri-Valley to win its first Division I district championship since 2006.
The All-Ohio teams are scheduled to be released in the next couple of weeks, sure, but we all know the honor of making those squads is nothing compared the thrill of landing a spot on the Delaware Gazette All-County teams.
Talk about a true benchmark of success.
It’s the list the area’s top players strive for before the season even tips off … and it’s finally here, bestowing bragging rights on the county’s best to display proudly, at least until next season.
First Team All-Conference: Rob Brandenberg, Senior, Gahanna; Stevie Taylor, Junior, Gahanna; Kevin Gray, Senior, Reynoldsburg; Trent Waybright, Junior, Pickerington North; Ryan Dierks, Senior, Newark; Mike Mayers, Senior, Grove City
When time expired and Gahanna had escaped with a win over Westerville North 60-54 in overtime in a Division I district final yesterday, coach Tony Staib leapt into the arms of an assistant, and the players whooped it up as if they had won a state championship.
To many in the Ohio Expo Center Coliseum, the boisterous celebration might have seemed a bit over the top for Ohio's No. 2-ranked Division I team, but the Lions' first district title was a long time coming.
While Dublin Coffman senior forward Michael Green was accepting congratulatory handshakes for his 30-point performance yesterday that sent him over 1,000 in his career, coach Jamey Collins added a point of his own.
"Sure, Michael had a great game, but his willingness to take charges was just as important to the outcome of the game as all the shots he made," Collins said.
New Albany guard Hannah Robertson was named to the first team of the Associated Press Division I All-Ohio team.
Robertson, a 5-foot-8 senior guard who has signed to play at Miami University, averaged 19.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.9 steals.
Natasha Howard, who led Toledo Waite to the state tournament, was named Player of the Year. The 6-3 senior, who has signed with Florida State, averaged 24.7 points, 11 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Coach Jack Purtell climbed the ladder, snipped the last strand of the net and held the souvenir as high as he could as seemingly the entire suburb of Reynoldsburg crowded the court.
He didn't say a word amid the din, but his expression said it all. This one was for the Raiders fans for sticking with the team during the hard times.