Olentangy scored the last 22 points of the game, including pitching a shutout in the fourth quarter, to turn a one-point lead into a 40-17 victory at rival Olentangy Orange in OCC-Buckeye action Saturday afternoon in Lewis Center.
Jessica Nation scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the decisive run, which she started with a basket after a McKenna Ford three-pointer and Maddie Erickson basket pulled Orange within 18-17 midway through the third quarter.
“I wasn’t expecting that,” Nation said about her team’s 18-0 fourth quarter effort. “It was just a total team effort.”
Cassie Dulay finished off the third quarter scoring with a short jumper to extend the lead to 22-17 through three.
After a Grace Pennington basket pushed the lead to nine, Olentangy (10-12, 5-5) got its next three baskets off assists. All while holding Orange off the scoreboard on the defensive end.
Pennington was chasing history – needing one three-pointer to break Kelly Meade’s school record 42 three-pointers in a season, which Pennington tied in Olentangy’s win over Hilliard Davidson Tuesday. Meade set the mark in 2016.
But, shots weren’t falling for Pennington. She missed her first six attempts.
“It’s hard to come into (a game) thinking about (a record) … it’s hard not to,” Olentangy coach Mike Daniels said. “She got open looks. The one she made it on — she wasn’t thinking about it – she was reacting and that’s when she shoots the best.”
One of those attempts fell into the hands of Courtney Suchan, who in one motion found Molly Delaney underneath for a layup. Delaney finished off the three-point play to give Olentangy a 33-17 lead midway through the fourth.
As for Pennington, she finally got the record-breaker to fall with 2:56 remaining. Nation corralled a deflected ball near midcourt, evaded Orange’s Alyssa Feeley and found Pennington on the right for the history-maker.
“I yelled ‘Get in there!’ – I was just so hopeful that it would go in,” Nation said. “It was a really good moment.”
“It was amazing,” Pennington said. “All of my teammates – I kept telling them that I don’t think I’m going to break it tonight. At least four of them came up to me and were like, ‘I know you are – I can feel it.’ It’s great to have support from my teammates like that.”
Orange trailed by as many as seven points in the first half after a Bailey Cummings and-one gave Olentangy a 12-5 lead in the second quarter.
But, Anna Grabau scored on one possession and fed Riley Duffy on another to pull the Pioneers within three.
Meg Spohn closed out the first half scoring with a steal-and-score to give Olentangy a 14-9 lead at the break.
A Nation basket pushed the lead to seven early in the third.
But, Natalie Simpson found Grabau underneath for a basket and she completed the three-point play with a free throw to cut the Orange deficit to 16-12.
Grabau had seven points to lead Orange (6-16, 0-10), but it was a tough way to celebrate Senior Night.
“Sometimes they want it so bad that they get – I don’t know – tight,” Orange coach Bob Scott said. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. We couldn’t make that big basket.”
Simpson, Feeley, Ford and Alex Ronk were honored in a ceremony before the game.
“A lot of kids start out when they’re in fourth or fifth or sixth grade. A lot of them drop out (by their senior year),” Scott said. “These are four kids that stuck with it. Sometimes through a lot of adversity. We didn’t win a lot of games – but they stuck with it and gave their best effort. They’ll all be successful no matter what they do.”
Both teams open district tournament play Saturday. Olentangy, seeded 29th, travels to 16th-seeded Teays Valley at 1 p.m. and 38th-seeded Orange visits eighth-seeded Bishop Hartley at 7 p.m. in the first round.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.