Braves, Patriots see magical runs end in regional semis


The Olentangy girls basketball team played from behind most of the night — something it rarely had to do all season long — and, while managing to claw back to even in the final minutes, couldn’t complete the comeback in Tuesday night’s Division I regional semifinal in Westerville.

Bishop Watterson did its homework.

The Eagles frustrated the Braves on defense and got just enough on the offensive end to escape with a 47-44 Division I regional semifinal win.

Watterson (20-6) started in a zone and switched defenses to keep high-powered Olentangy (24-2) uncomfortable. It closed out on the shooters and gave space to the drivers.

It was simple, but effective.

The Eagles limited the Braves to just 21 first-half points. Three three-pointers from Sophie Ziel helped, too, as they took a 28-21 lead into halftime.

Olentangy looked a little more like itself in the second half, but dug itself an 11-point hole before climbing all the way out of it.

Down 37-26 after Lilly Mulligan scored inside to cap a 7-0 run, the Braves started to lean on freshman post Sydney Mobley.

Mobley stopped the run with a hoop and, after a Chayla Rankin block at the other end got the Olentangy faithful on their feet, it was a 39-32 game heading into the fourth.

Mia Chirpas got Olentangy a little closer, splitting a pair of free throws, and Mobley went on personal 6-0 run to even things at 39 with 4:30 left.

Rankin scored inside to give the Braves their first lead since she broke the scoring seal to make it 2-0, extending an 8-0 run to make it 41-39.

The Braves still led, 43-41, when Whitney Stafford scored with 3:09 left, but Watterson finished with a flourish.

Mulligan hit two free throws to even things at 43 and Ziel scored in transition to put the Eagles back on top. Stafford split a pair at the line to get the Braves within a point with 55.5 left, but that was as close as it would get.

Watterson was able too burn most of the remainder of the clock, all but 19 seconds, before Ziel calmly connected on two free throws with 14.4 left.

Olentangy got a look at a potential game-tying three at the horn, but Stafford’s heave was long and the Eagles held on.

Pickerington Central 66, Olentangy Liberty 46

The Patriots started about as well as they could’ve, coupling solid defense with efficient offense on the way to an 18-13 edge after one, but the top-seeded Tigers flexed their muscles after that en route to a Division I regional semifinal win Tuesday at Otterbein.

Sarah Mitchell hit a three to give Liberty (21-6) an early 3-2 lead. Claire Mikola scored back-to-back hoops and Maria Stack drew a charge at the other end as the Patriots swelled the lead to 10-4 midway through the quarter.

Central (24-3) got a little closer with a deep jumper from Kennady Gordon, but Emme Adams scored a couple buckets, the first on a nice find from Mikola, and Mitchell hit her second three-pointer of the half to account for Liberty’s five point lead after one.

The Tigers picked it up after that, though, outscoring the Patriots 23-8 in the second quarter and 16-8 in the third to take control.

Central’s Zoe Coleman hit a three to open the second quarter and, after Mikola scored five quick points and Emma Karagheuzoff hit a three-pointer to help the Patriots cling to a 26-23 lead with 4:05 left in the half, the Tigers ended the quarter on a 13-0 surge to take a 10-point, 36-26, halftime lead.

Central’s Rylee Bess kicked off the run with a driving layin before Berry Wallace scored inside and Bess hit back-to-back triples, the second to beat the halftime buzzer and extend the lead to 10.

Mitchell hit a corner three early in the third and Karagheuzoff hit two more from deep, but Coleman answered with back-to-back buckets to make it a 20-point game, 56-36, with seven minutes left to all but seal the deal.

With the wins, Watterson and Pickerington Central advance to Friday’s regional final. Tip is slated for 7 p.m. back at Otterbein.

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