Reynoldsburg News

Girls Basketball

Thomas' shot beats Bradley

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The Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team has a player selected to the McDonald's All-American Game in senior Alyssa Rice and a pair of Division I recruits in Butler University signee Nicole Orr and Rice, who has signed with Kentucky.

There's more to the Raiders than that duo, though, as they proved during the closing seconds of a Division I district final against Hilliard Bradley on March 1 at Ohio Dominican.

With 6.4 seconds left and the score tied at 44, Reynoldsburg put the ball in the hands of senior point guard De'Shay Thomas with the hope that her speed would lead to a win.

Thomas took care of matters herself, making a running jump shot as time expired to give the Raiders a 46-44 victory and improve their record to 22-4.

Reynoldsburg advanced to a regional semifinal March 4 at Otterbein against Northland.

"It came down to De'Shay making a play at the end," coach Jack Purtell said.

"We wanted to try to get the ball into De'Shay's hands and let her do it. She's fast, and it was time to push it down the court. It was a great play."

Thomas, who scored seven points while Rice had 18 and Orr added 10, considered her options before taking the shot that helped her team avoid overtime against an upset-minded Bradley team that was seeded 12th.

Thomas had missed the front end of a 1-and-1 earlier in the fourth quarter for the Raiders, who went on to win their fifth consecutive district title.

"I was thinking of getting the ball to Alyssa, but I wasn't able to get a pass to her," Thomas said.

"I didn't know how much time was on the clock. Once (the shot) got halfway up there, it looked like it was going in. I double-clutched it. I was thinking about how I missed the foul shot. Bradley made us play really hard."

Reynoldsburg, which lost to North Canton Hoover 51-48 in a regional semifinal a year ago, would play Upper Arlington or Dublin Coffman in a regional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Otterbein if it beat Northland.

The regional champion plays Hoover, Canton McKinley, Solon or Twinsburg in a state semifinal March 14 at Ohio State.

While Reynoldsburg was the district's top seed, UA was second, Northland was fourth and Coffman was ninth.

UA beat third-seeded Newark 50-38 in a district final March 1 to improve to 24-1, as it won its first district title since 1989. Before playing Coffman on March 4, the Golden Bears had won 23 games in a row since losing to the Shamrocks 42-32 on Nov. 29.

UA beat Coffman 53-40 on Jan. 10.

While Rice was district Player of the Year, UA is led by 6-foot senior and first-team all-district player Andi Norman (14 points per game) and Coffman features 6-1 senior and OCC-Central Player of the Year Sade Olatoye (14 ppg).

Norman had seven points and 19 rebounds and Kyle Croxton scored a career-high 21 against Newark.

Olatoye scored 20 points as Coffman improved to 20-6 by beating 13th-seeded Olentangy 62-42 in a district final March 1.

Of the five district finals that the Raiders have won in a row, the only ones in single digits were against Brookhaven (56-50 in 2010) and Bradley.

"(Bradley) played us really well," said Rice, who scored 11 of the Raiders' 13 fourth-quarter points.

"All the credit to their coaching staff -- I wanted to just keep us in the game. De'Shay is a good penetrator and with the time we had it worked out in our favor."

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