The District III Girls’ Basketball Semi-Finals held at Lake High School on Thursday evening, March 2, could have just as well been billed the NWOAL Girls’ Semi-Finals or, even more specifically, the Fulton County Girls’ Semis. Whatever the label, four Sectional Champions, all out of the Northwest Ohio Athletic League and all from Fulton County, met with an overall chance to move on to the regional tournament with a couple of victories.
In the first game, Evergreen guard Hannah Herr drained a three-point shot with .07 seconds on the clock to give the Vikings a 46-43 victory over the Delta Panthers. Herr took a pass from teammate Alyssa Noe with just under two seconds remaining but had enough composure to square up to the basket and launch a prayer that found nothing but nylon, sending the Evergreen faithful into a raucous and frenzied celebration.
“She sometimes tries to do too much for us. She always wears her heart on her sleeve,” said first-year Evergreen coach Brittney Cymbolin. “I told her she needed to calm down and she calmed down and hit the big shot for us when we needed it most.”
The Viking win was the third in a row as a lower-seeded team which included an enormous win over the number two-seeded Otsego Knights which came in with a 19-3 record.
Early in the game, however, it looked like Evergreen’s Cinderella run was going to come to an end when they quickly fell behind by 10 points, 17-7, behind Delta’s scoring duo of Maddie Mattimore (six points) and Abbie Freeman (five points). But the Vikings rallied behind two treys by Alexie Shipman and tied the score 21-21 at the half.
Evergreen took control in the third quarter and led by as many as seven, 32-25, with 3:05 left in the third. To their credit, the Panthers would not give up and pulled within two to four points the rest of the game until they tied they tied score 43-43 on a short jumper by Emily Clifton with 30.6 seconds remaining. Back-to-back turnovers followed giving Evergreen the ball with 14 second left in regulation. What came next will go down as one of the biggest moments in Evergreen basketball history. “It’s definitely a shot I’ll always remember,” said Herr after the game. Shipman led the Vikings with 15 points while Noe added 10. Mattimore took game-high honors with 16 points and Clifton dropped in 12.
The second game pitted the number one-seeded Archbold Blue Streaks with a 23-1 record against league foe Swanton Lady Bulldogs. Swanton took an early 4-0 lead with a Haley Nelson layup seven seconds into the game and a basket by Cydney Christensen. Archbold quickly responded and the first quarter scoring went back and forth with an Emie Peterson shot from the baseline giving the Blue Streaks a 13-11 lead after one period of play.
In quarter number two, Archbold began to flex their muscle and showed how they earned their lofty seeding. A stifling defense forced a number of Swanton turnovers, Kierstyn Repp knocked down two of her four triples on her way to 22 game-high points and the Streaks walked off the court with a 28-16 halftime advantage.
Archbold dominated the second half as Repp’s scoring took over with nine more points in the third quarter. Nelson had seven for the Bulldogs as they tried to stay close but the Streaks expanded their lead to 44-27 with three quarters in the books.
The 2017 NWOAL Champions put the game away in the final frame outscoring Swanton 19-4 for a dominating 63-31 victory. The 32-point margin was the smallest of the three games in the playoffs so far following a 39-point win over Northwood and a 49-point blowout of Rossford. “We’re playing well right now,” commented assistant coach and Archbold Sports Hall-of-Famer Char Sharp. “The defense is playing very well.”
Emie and Andi Peterson backed up Repp’s scoring with 11 and eight points respectively. Nelson had 11 and Sydney Taylor chipped min with seven for the Bulldogs.
Bill O’Connell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org