A hot shooting first half by Taylor Agler and clutch free-throw shooting by her teammates helped the Olentangy Orange High School girls basketball team earn its first Division I regional championship March 8 at Otterbein University.
The Pioneers led by as much as 12 in the first half and never trailed during a 61-55 win over North Canton Hoover that advances them to their first state tournament.
Agler, a senior guard, scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the first half and added seven assists for the Pioneers, who improved to 26-2.
Orange will play Twinsburg in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. March 15 at Ohio State. The state final is 8:30 p.m. March 16.
“It’s unreal,” senior guard Maddy Joseph said. “It’s been our dream since the fifth grade. My team is just very mentally tough.”
Joseph made one of the game’s biggest shots, a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc with 5:40 to go to give her team a 52-47 lead.
Agler found senior forward Mya Walker open on the baseline with 1:15 to go and Walker hit the shot to make it 56-51.
Senior guard Kierstynn Myers and Joseph each hit two free throws and junior post player Sarah Sagerer made one of two during the final 38 seconds to ice the game.
Joseph scored 11 points and Walker added nine.
Hoover got 20 points and 12 rebounds from junior forward Kaylee Stroemple and 14 points from its only senior, guard Kelsey Peare, as it finished 22-5.