Roundup: Indians outlast Golden Eagles in district semifinal


The fifth-seeded Big Walnut girls basketball team nearly shook off a slow start, clawing back from a 10-point halftime deficit to make it a one-possession game with 24.7 seconds left, but Pierce Cephas calmly connected on a pair of free throws with 5.2 left to help 11th-seeded Canal Winchester hold on for a 46-42 Division I district semifinal win Wednesday night at Westerville North High School.

It was a tale of two halves for the Golden Eagles (22-3), who split the regular-season series with the Indians (19-6) on the way to their first OCC championship in more than two decades.

In the first game against Canal — a 51-39 loss in the second game of the season — turnovers were a major problem.

In the first half of the tourney game, turnovers were again a problem as Big Walnut scored just 15 first-half points and trailed 25-15 at the break. Denza Allen was the only Eagle to score in the first quarter as the Indians built a 12-6 lead after ending things on an 8-0 run.

Teagan Ng scored inside to open the second and stop the bleeding, but Canal ballooned the lead to 17-8 thanks to a three-pointer by Cephas and a transition hoop from London Johnson.

The Indians led by as many as 12 in the first half, settling for the 10-point lead after Allen hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the quarter.

The second half was a different story, though, as BW battled back throughout the third and fourth quarters, playing like it did in the regular-season rematch — a 42-37 win. The Eagles still turned the ball over against an aggressive full-court press, but got a few other faces in on the action at the offensive end.

Maddy Stumpf opened the third with a hoop, Lexi Federer hit a couple free throws to make it an eight-point game and Remy Largent collected a steal before finding Alexa Morris for an easy basket in transition. Federer hit a three-pointer to tighten things even more, making it a one-possession game, 27-24, late in the quarter, but that’s as close as things would get.

Ng scored inside to make it 38-32 with 3:44 left, but Canal’s Kylie Long answered with a huge three.

The Golden Eagles had one final push, getting within three when Ng split a pair of free throws with 24.7 seconds left, but couldn’t complete the comeback.

Michaela Dean-Dunn split a pair from the charity stripe with 17.9 seconds left, the second snapping a string of five straight misses for the Indians at the line.

Largent was fouled in the final seconds, making both of the ensuing free throws to smooth out the scoring summary.

With the win, Canal advances to Saturday’s district championship against fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty — a 54-34 winner over 16th-seeded Tri-Valley. Tip is set for 1:30 p.m. at Ohio Dominican’s Alumni Hall.

Buckeye Valley 43, River Valley 34

The second-seeded Barons used good starts to both halves en route to a Division II district semifinal win over the eighth-seeded Vikings Wednesday night at Marion Harding High School.

Buckeye Valley outscored River Valley 10-4 in the first quarter and 15-10 in the third to get some separation.

The Vikings shaved off a couple in the fourth, but found points hard to come by all night.

The Barons limited River Valley to just 8-for-26 shooting while forcing 16 turnovers. Free throws kept the Vikings within striking distance — they made 15 to BV’s six — but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Ella Hazelrigg led the charge with a double-double — 11 points and 10 rebounds. Other standouts included Carlie Osborne, Emily Huston and Molly Meier, who had eight points each. Osborne also finished with a team-high six assists in the win.

Buckeye Valley, which improved to 23-2 with the win, will take on fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll — a 64-40 winner over fifth-seeded Jonathan Alder — in Saturday’s district final at Central Crossing High School.

Pickerington Central 61, Olentangy Berlin 25

The top-seeded Tigers jumped out to a 20-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back en route to a lopsided Division I district semifinal win over the 15th-seeded Bears Wednesday night at Westerville Central High School.

Berlin, which finished 16-9 on the season, got a team-high 14 points from Cami Elliott and six more from Layla Merriweather.

Also: Olentangy 79, Reynoldsburg 68; Buckeye Valley 43, River Valley 34.

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