A lesser opponent is preferred, but there's still plenty for the Heath High School girls basketball team to like about its matchup against Amanda-Clearcreek in a Division III district semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Olentangy Orange.

A lesser opponent is preferred, but there's still plenty for the Heath High School girls basketball team to like about its matchup against Amanda-Clearcreek in a Division III district semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday at Olentangy Orange.

There's a certain familiarity there tinged with motivation, for starters.

"We (graduated) a couple of kids and so did they, but the teams are essentially the same. It's kind of a rematch of last year," coach Doug Griffin said referring to the Aces' 62-46 victory over the Bulldogs in a district final. "When we had the tournament draw (three weeks ago) and then went over the whole thing with the kids, we told them there would be a good chance we'd see Amanda again. We hope (our girls) remember what happened."

Griffin also likes the way his players responded to a 60-54 loss against Granville on Feb. 21 that cost the Bulldogs the outright MSL-Ohio Division championship. They managed only 14 rebounds that night, but held a 42-25 advantage on the boards while eliminating Madison Plains 59-44 in a second-round tournament game last Thursday at Pickerington North.

Freshman post player Tiffany LaRue came off the bench and grabbed 12 rebounds. Teammate Kelly Roberts had 16 rebounds as the Bulldogs improved to 18-4 overall. The only uncomfortable moments came when Madison Plains knocked down a succession of 3-pointers to close within 51-44 with 1 minute, 51 seconds remaining.

"We just need the effort we had tonight and better perimeter defense," Griffin said. "Amanda has shooters, too. We have to force them to put the ball on the floor and go from there."

The ninth-seeded Aces improved to 15-7 overall with a similar-looking 59-43 victory over Caledonia River Valley in the second round last Thursday at Pickerington North. They scored the game's first seven points and led 11-2 before River Valley knew what hit it.

"That definitely set the tone for the game," said Amanda-Clearcreek's 6-foot post player Jenna Ruble, who scored 22 points.

"When we're functioning like we're capable of, we're going to be pretty tough to beat," Amanda-Clearcreek coach Butch Kobel said. "Right now, it looks like we're peaking and coming on at the right time."

So is Heath junior Tavia Croom, who had eight points and eight assists last Thursday.

"She's definitely playing with a lot of confidence right now," said senior guard Megan White, who scored a game-high 20 points. "I think she's one of the best point guards in the district."

The Aces will counter with an athletic guard of their own in 5-10 junior Abby Meyer, who was assigned to defend the 5-4 White in last year's district final and limited her to 20 points, including just six in the second half. White had scored 33 and 41 points in her two previous tournament games. Another key player for the Aces is senior post Gretchen Meyer, who is slowed by a torn rotator cuff in her left shoulder but still had 14 points last Thursday.

"We've seen Heath play twice, and they're basically the same team as last year," Kobel said. "I think they're probably in some ways a little better."