The Buckeye Valley girls basketball team will get the chance to bookend history in a unique sort of way.
The sixth-seeded Barons’ defense stood tall for the third time in three tournament games, holding fourth-seeded Granville to just two field goals in the second half of a convincing 41-23 district semifinal win Tuesday night at Highland High School in Marengo.
The win gives BV the opportunity to win its first district championship since 1993.
BV coach Travis Stout didn’t think his players understood the historical significance … and he was fine with that.
“They’re just excited about the prospect of getting a trophy and medals,” he said. “They’ve got some lofty goals, and we take it one game at a time and I try to encourage them to do that.”
“This is just amazing,” sophomore Hannah Cowan said. “The last time we’ve been to the district finals was when Morgan Scowden’s mom was on the team. That’s just crazy.”
“We’re the second team to ever do it at Buckeye Valley … boys or girls teams,” Scowden said. “So, it’s a huge deal. The last team to do it was my mom’s team, so that’s pretty cool.”
This version, however, has done it with some stout defense. The Barons have allowed just 50 points over their three tournament games.
“We just keep getting better defensively,” Stout said. “That’s the thing that’s exciting for me. From a coaching standpoint – you gotta love 23 points against a team like Granville that has as many good guards as they have.”
Tess Hughes’ put-back gave BV a 7-5 lead with 4:55 left in the opening quarter in a game it never trailed.
The basket started a 12-2 run that pretty much put the game out of reach.
“I could tell when we were warming up that we were ready,” Scowden said. “We weren’t tight – we didn’t change anything – we didn’t do anything different just because this was the district semifinals. We just played our game and we played our game the whole game.”
And it was a good thing the Baron defense stood tall because their offense had a difficult time in the middle two quarters, making just one field goal from the start of the second quarter to the 4:20 mark of the third.
Lisa Leienberger stepped in front of a pass and threw long to Scowden for a layup to finally break the drought, giving BV a 26-15 lead.
Cowan led with 12 points and Scowden and Dani Grether each added 10 for the Barons (19-6), who extended their winning streak to 10.
“Honestly, this just feels natural,” Cowan said. “We’ve worked so hard all season. It’s just the time for it. It’s awesome.”
Meanwhile, the Blue Aces couldn’t get close enough to threaten.
Lainie Hilaman rebounded a missed shot on one end and went coast to coast for a buzzer-beating layup to cut the Granville deficit to 23-15 at the break.
“Practice has really helped,” Cowan said. “We practice defense a lot. If we’re struggling on offense – we really rely on our defense because we know it just comes naturally.”
The Barons used a 6-1 run in the third to break the game open and Granville never got it back to single digits.
Hilaman scored a game-high 14 points for the Aces (17-7).
BV and seventh-seeded Bloom-Carroll hook up Friday night at 8:30 p.m. at Westerville Central High School for the D-II district crown.
“They deserve it – they’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” Stout said. “I’m happy for them. I’m happy for our seniors … to see them get rewarded for the work that they put in.”
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.