Fresh off his being named Central District Coach of the Year, Buckeye Valley girls basketball coach Travis Stout put Friday night’s 49-40 loss to Bloom-Carroll in the Division II district final at Westerville Central High School squarely on his shoulders.

The seventh-seeded Bulldogs opened 6-0 and never trailed, using a 19-5 run in the first half to take control – extending the lead as high as 18.

“I feel bad for my players because I feel like I let them down with the game plan,” Stout said. “It’s not about me, but I don’t think I put them out there in a position to be successful at the start of the game.”

The sixth-seeded Barons just couldn’t find an answer for B-C post Chloe Davis, who scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the first half to help the Bulldogs to a 32-17 lead at the break.

“You gotta give (B-C) coach Chad Little and his players a lot of credit,” Stout said. “They went out there and played extremely hard.”

The Barons had opportunities to stay in the game at the foul line, but converted just seven of 15 attempts in the first half and 10 of 21 overall.

“Obviously, you’d like a better start – but it didn’t work out for us (tonight),” Stout said. “You miss 11 free throws and lose by nine – obviously that’s something you’re going to look at.”

Davis scored a pair of baskets in a 6-0 start to the second half that pushed the lead as high as 38-19.

“They came out the more physical and the more aggressive team and they were ready for us,” Stout said. “That’s a tribute to their program and how successful they are. I wish them congratulations and I wish them a lot of luck going forward in the tournament.”

That’s when the Barons found their footing with a 10-2 run to close the third. Reilly Taylor scored on consecutive possessions to get them started and Morgan Scowden turned her own steal into a layup in the final second of the frame.

“I had a conversation with (Reilly) yesterday just about how I thought she could be a big part of this game and I was happy to see her come out and do that,” Stout said. “It’s tough for a sophomore – who’s had an up-and-down year as far as playing time — to come in and be consistent … and she was that today at the most important time of the year.”

The Bulldogs (15-10) went into clock-mode in the fourth. They went the entire frame without a shot, but made enough free throws to keep the game out of reach.

“It was understandable at that point the way they were defending,” Stout said. “We were having a hard time on the offensive end – we couldn’t get a lot of things going. For them to slow down — especially the way they were controlling the ball for the vast majority of the game – was understandable.”

Davis and Makenzee Mason each knocked down a pair of free throws to push the Bulldog lead to 44-29.

BV rallied with a basket by Dani Grether and three in three possessions by Hannah Cowan to get the Barons as close as seven.

“Our players could have easily quit and backed down – but they didn’t,” Stout said. “They gave their effort all the way to the end.”

But, Mason converted three out of four free throws to account for the final margin. She finished with 15 points, going 13-for-16 at the charity stripe.

Alaina Radcliffe led with 10 points, Scowden and Cowan added nine apiece and Taylor chipped in six for the Barons (19-7), who made the district final for the first time since 1993.

“They’re going to look back fondly on this one day,” Stout said. “I can speak from experience – you don’t necessarily remember how it ended – you remember how much fun you had along the way.”

B-C moves on to the regional semifinal against No. 4 Tippecanoe Tuesday night at 8 p.m. at Springfield High School.

Buckeye Valley’s Hannah Cowan, left, and Alaina Radcliffe trap Bloom-Carroll’s Haley Vollmer under the hoop in the first half of Friday’s Division II district championship game in Westerville. Valley’s Hannah Cowan, left, and Alaina Radcliffe trap Bloom-Carroll’s Haley Vollmer under the hoop in the first half of Friday’s Division II district championship game in Westerville. Ben Stroup | Gazette

By Michael Rich

For the Gazette

Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at [email protected].