By Michael Rich
The Olentangy girls basketball team captured its second straight OCC-Capital Division championship and fifth in seven seasons with a 49-45 win at Worthington Kilbourne Tuesday night.
“This is our fifth in seven years and they all feel great,” Olentangy coach John Feasel said. “When you go through this league and win enough games to win the league, you’ve done something. It feels good — you always want to win the league.”
Kelly Meade led Olentangy with 18 points, six rebounds and three assists while freshman Olivia Margolies came off the bench to pitch in 10 points, six boards and three blocks.
“She’s the all-time leading scorer in the history of the school — the district,” Feasel said of Meade. “There’s never been a more prolific scorer … she brings us points every night (and) that’s a luxury. Sometimes it’s tough — we shot 30-something percent tonight. When you have a girl that can give you 16 or 18 points a night, that’s awful nice to have.”
Olentangy was locked in its second straight nail-biter in the league after it took a Meade banked three-pointer to send the New Albany game into overtime before finally winning last Friday.
“Our team has really pulled together,” Meade said. “We’re winning close games that I don’t think we’ve won like this in the past and it’s just a really special experience — especially being a senior.”
It wasn’t a work of art, but Olentangy (18-2, 13-0) got key plays from Christina Baumann, who went 4-for-4 at the line in the final minute; and Chelsea Moore, who hauled in a game-clinching rebound with 7.6 seconds left after a missed three-pointer would have tied it for Kilbourne.
“We gutted one out,” Feasel said. “That’s grinding — I had one freshman and a lot of seniors on the floor … it came down to making free throws in the fourth quarter and we made key ones.”
Moore hit one free throw to seal the win and had six rebounds for the game.
Allison Raiff found Baumann for three at the end of the first half to give Olentangy a 22-20 lead at the break. Baumann finished with seven points and three steals and Raiff added six points and three assists.
“Christina Baumann stepped up big tonight and played all of her minutes and all of (Molly Delaney’s) as well,” Feasel said.
The Braves never trailed again after opening the second half with a Meade three-pointer and a basket by Emily Stephens.
Kilbourne (13-8, 10-3) stayed close throughout, led by Jordyn Wilson and Maggie Crozier, who had 10 points apiece. Wilson also had eight rebounds.
The Wolves played stout defense throughout, led by Hailee Wilhelm’s eight rebounds and five blocks. They trailed 40-37 at the end of the third.
“(Kilbourne) is a really good team and I knew they were going to give us all they had,” Feasel said. “They had a lot on the line and they played hard and we played hard.”
Olentangy lost one of its top scorers in the first half when Molly Delaney went down with a knee injury.
“The signs are good from the preliminaries,” Feasel said. “It’s just preliminary. Hopefully it’s a sprain and she’ll be back.”
Kilbourne led through much of the first quarter after a 10-2 run gave it a 15-10 lead. But Meade hit a jumper from the high post with about five seconds left.
“I think our defense is really what kept us in the game,” Meade said. “Just talking on defense and rotating around — that’s what really helped us because we did get beat back a few times. But, we figured it out and I think in the end, our defense is what really helped us.”
Raiff stole the inbound pass from nearly the same spot and buried a jumper at the horn to give Olentangy a 16-15 edge at the end of the first.
It’s the 12th straight win for Olentangy, who hasn’t lost in-state since the opening game of the year, and the 27th straight league win. A win Friday at home against Mount Vernon would mean back-to-back undefeated seasons in the league.
Olentangy is right back it tonight when it hosts Nelsonville-York at 7:30 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.