Reynoldsburg wins fourth straight district title
The Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team settled for Division I district runner-up finishes three times from 2006-09, losing tight finals to Pickerington Central in 2006 and 2009.
The last four seasons have made those frustrations feel like the distant past for coach Jack Purtell.
On March 2 in a district final at Bloom-Carroll, the top-seeded Raiders completed a four-year run of district championships when they blew past 23rd-seeded Upper Arlington 62-19.
Reynoldsburg was 24-2 entering the regional tournament.
"A few years ago we were just excited to be able to compete with the best teams in the area," Purtell said. "These girls know that we are one of the best teams now."
Reynoldsburg played North Canton Hoover in a regional semifinal March 6 at Otterbein University. The winner advanced to play Olentangy Orange or Gahanna in a regional final at 7:15 p.m. Friday, March 8, at the same site.
The regional champion will play Middleburg Heights Midpark, Twinsburg, Solon or Mentor in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. March 15 at Ohio State. The state final is 8:30 p.m. March 16 at the same site.
Last season, the Raiders beat Olentangy 56-31 in a district final and Canton McKinley 62-57 and Northland 47-37 at the regional level before losing to Twinsburg 49-41 in a state semifinal.
If Reynoldsburg won its regional semifinal, it would face a familiar opponent in a regional final.
During the regular season, the Raiders defeated Gahanna 54-44 on Dec. 18 and 57-43 on Jan. 29 in OCC-Ohio Division games. They led the Lions 17-5 after the first quarter in the first meeting and 20-7 at the end of one period in the rematch.
Gahanna features four Division I recruits in senior guards Chrishna Butler (Cleveland State) and Quiera Lampkins (Ohio University), senior forward Maddison Blackwell (Xavier) and senior post player Zenobia Bess (Illinois State).
Reynoldsburg won 62-58 at Orange on Jan. 14. Pioneers senior guard Taylor Agler, an Indiana signee, made six 3-pointers in the first half to help her team take a 30-21 lead before the Raiders rallied.
Senior forward Shiloh Murphy had 23 points and junior post player Alyssa Rice had 18 against Orange.
"We know when you get to the regional that you have to step up," Murphy said. "It's a great thing for this senior class to accomplish what we've been able to accomplish."
When senior post player Destini Cooper and senior guard Yamonie Jenkins were key players as freshmen in 2010, the Raiders won their first district title since 1991. Murphy joined the program as a sophomore after transferring from Zanesville.
Reynoldsburg closed this year's district-title run by beating Olentangy Liberty 62-22 on Feb. 28 and UA.
Against Liberty, Rice had 15 points and four blocks and junior forward Nicole Orr scored 14 points. The Raiders led 34-6 by halftime.
Then against UA, Murphy made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points. She had 11 points during a 17-0 third quarter.
Rice had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Cooper, Jenkins, Orr and junior guard Deshay Thomas all scored six points for the Raiders, who led 50-12 entering the fourth quarter.
"It feels good," said Orr, who joined the program after previously playing for Whitehall. "It's good playing with players who have been here before and I'm glad that they have that experience.
"We've been staying focused and working hard in practice. (The regional) is a new experience (for me) and is really exciting."