Roundup: Braves win first district title since 1998


For the first time since 1998, the Olentangy girls basketball team has a banner to update.

The second-seeded Braves scored the first eight points of the game and never looked back, parlaying the fast start into a convincing 57-40 win in the first of four Division I district championship games Saturday at Ohio Dominican University’s Alumni Hall.

Whitney Stafford, who finished with a game-best 20 points, said her team got all the motivation it would need before it even left the school in the morning.

“We went in our gym this morning and we have the banner up,” she said. “We saw the last (district championship) was 1998, so we knew it was time to bring one home. We had a big crowd there, so it’s great to do it for everyone there.”

There was a big crowd at ODU, too, but Olentangy coach Jamie Edwards knew the stage wouldn’t be too big for the Braves.

“I told the girls, ‘Walking into a gym like this can be scary, and they haven’t seen a team like you’,” he said. “We’ve been in big situations like this — the two Marysville games, playing in the Classic in the City, the Classic in the Country, the Trill in the Ville — I don’t think they’ve been in this environment yet so we need to use that right from the get go … show them we’ve been here.”

It worked.

Olentangy, completely unfazed by the crowd or the Golden Bears, took control from the opening tip.

Kate Mosher broke the scoring seal with a driving layin, Sydney Mobley scored inside after collecting a pair of offensive rebounds and before splitting a pair of free throws and Stafford connected on a three-pointer to make it 8-0, forcing UA to call a timeout with 3:20 left in the opening quarter.

The Golden Bears’ Elizabeth Poling split a pair from the charity stripe to get her team on the board, but the Braves scored 10 of the next 13 points to take a convincing 18-4 lead into the second quarter.

Upper Arlington closed the half on a 9-4 run, but still trailed 29-16 at the break.

It was then, at the start of the third, Olentangy took control for good as Stafford scored the first six points of the quarter to balloon the lead to 19, 35-16.

Ella Hanky and Elizabeth Hunt scored back-to-back hoops to get the Golden Bears within 12 late in the fourth, but that’s as close as it would get.

“We couldn’t get in any rhythm,” Upper Arlington coach John Wanke said. “If you don’t make shots, they get it out in transition and are really hard to stop. We’ve been shooting the ball well all year, but tonight wan’t our night. Credit Olentangy … they’re very well coached and obviously incredibly talented.”

Olentangy’s been close to adding titles to the banners in the past, making six trips to district finals in a seven-year span. Edwards was an assistant under John Feasel, who recently led Olentangy’s boys team to a share of the league title while nabbing OCC-Cardinal Division co-Coach of the Year honors, for four of those trips.

“This title means a lot,” Edwards said. “Especially with Coach Feasel in the stands. He was he first to come up and say, ‘Finally, we did it.’ It means a lot.”

Olentangy Liberty 60, Canal Winchester 53

The fourth-seeded Patriots used a good first quarter and even better second to take an early edge they parlayed into a win over the 11th-seeded Indians to secure the program’s first district championship since 2015 Saturday afternoon at Alumni Hall.

Claire Mikola scored back-to-back buckets to stake Liberty (21-5) to a 6-4 lead.

London Johnson answered at the other end for Canal (19-7), but Sarah Mitchell and Emma Karagheuzoff took turns drilling threes to give the Patriots a 14-10 lead.

Mikola beat the Indian defense to score in transition, ballooning the early edge to six — a lead Liberty maintained until the end of the quarter.

The Patriots went off from three-point land to start the second — a quarter they won 15-4 to take a 35-18 halftime lead. Maria Stack hit a three to open the second and Gigi Bower hit back-to-back triples to make it 30-16 less than three minutes into the quarter.

Overall, Liberty hit nine three-pointers.

As it turned out, the Patriots needed most of them, too.

Canal, thanks to a 15-0 run sparked by its defense, sliced a 22-point third-quarter deficit to just three in the fourth, but Liberty sealed the deal from the free-throw line. Mikola went often — eight times in the final two minutes — and made seven of them. Bower also went 3-for-4 to help the Patriots put the finishing touches on the title.

Mikola led the way with 15 points while Karagheuzoff and Bower chipped in 14 and 13, respectively.

Johnson had a game-high 24 points for the Indians while Michaela Dunn finished with 13.

Bloom-Carroll 49, Buckeye Valley 36

The second-seeded Barons started well, taking a lead into the second quarter, but couldn’t keep the momentum on their bench as the fifth-seeded Bulldogs pulled away to win a Division II district championship Saturday night at Central Crossing High School.

Buckeye Valley (23-3), which entered the game having won 16 in a row, finished the season with a new school record for wins.

Its bid for the program’s first district title in 31 years fell just short, though, as points were hard to come by.

The start wasn’t the problem — the Barons led 11-10 after the first quarter — but the Bulldogs picked it up after that, especially on the defensive end. Bloom-Carroll limited BV to just six second-quarter points on the way to a 22-17 halftime lead.

It was still anyone’s game after a back-and-fourth third, with the Bulldogs clinging to a 33-26 lead before a 16-10 fourth sealed the deal.

Carlie Osborne and Ella Hazelrigg led Buckeye Valley with 10 points apiece. Hazely Wagner was also steady, finishing with six points in the setback.

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