Olentangy Liberty senior guard Katie Harrop has been a defensive stopper for the Patriots during her three years on the varsity team.
But, Harrop hit four threes, including the one that put the Patriots ahead for good in a 54-51 victory over rival Olentangy Tuesday night in the OCC-Buckeye Division opener in Powell.
Harrop canned the go-ahead triple with 1:38 left off a Kennedy Kashmiry feed — one of five assists for the junior guard off the bench.
“Before the game, I told (Harrop) to be aggressive – keep taking shots,” Patriots coach Sam Krafty said. “
Led by Harrop and junior guard Emma Humenay, who had four apiece, Liberty (2-1, 1-0 OCC) drained 10 three-pointers in the win.
Harrop hit two long balls in the first quarter before Humaney knocked in her first one at the end of the first quarter to give the Patriots a 13-7 lead through one.
Liberty coach Sam Krafty said he knew this kind of game was coming from Harrop.
“It’s no fluke — it’s just hard convincing her that (she’s capable of this),” Krafty said. “She’s a very selfless kid. She’s been our best defensive player.”
Breanna Yashko, who scored 17 points, hit the other two. Teegan Pifher had five points (all in the first half) to go with a well-rounded seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
“It’s good to have a freshman come in and play well,” Harrop said about Pifher. “She is getting stronger every day. (Yashko) is a lot of fun to play with — she practices really hard. She’s constantly in the gym getting better. She makes the team better.”
Olentangy trailed the whole way until Olivia Margolies’ free throw tied the game with 3:43 left. Olentangy used an 11-3 start in the fourth to work its way back from an eight-point deficit through three.
Grace Pennington led the run with five points, which included a three-pointer, and Lauren Biehl connected on one as well during the rally.
“We were a better team in that second half than we were in (the first),” Olentangy coach Mike Daniels said. “(Liberty is) a team that drives — so from scouting, I wanted to make them hit threes. (Tuesday night), they were the better team because they hit them.”
Olentangy trailed by as much as 11 in the first half until Biehl closed it to 32-24 with a three-pointer.
“I got nervous going into the half because we were up (11) and they banked in a three from 22 feet and then we missed a layup put-back that would have (beat the) buzzer,” Krafty said. “I thought that was a pretty big five-point swing — we could have been up 13 and in a little bit better control.”
Olivia Margolies led Olentangy (1-2, 0-1) with 15 points and game-highs in rebounds with 15 — 10 of which came on the offensive end — and blocks with three. Biehl added eight points and two rebounds.
“(Olivia) played strong,” Daniels said. “I challenged her (Tuesday night) because I know Teegan Pifher is a really good player. She stepped up — she played well.”
Emily Margolies had six rebounds and Gillian Feasel sparked Olentangy in the second quarter with four points and five rebounds.
Next up, both teams continue league-play. Thursday night, Liberty visits rival Olentangy Orange at 7:30 p.m. Olentangy, meanwhile, travels to Westerville South Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
Also: Big Walnut 59, Groveport 44; Westerville North 52, Orange 40; Delaware Christian 28, Wellington 14.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.