The fourth-seeded Northland High School girls basketball team has struggled from the foul line for much of the season, but the Vikings hit four free throws in the final 18 seconds to defeat third-seeded Olentangy Orange 51-50 in a Division I district final on March 3 at Pickerington Central
The Vikings improved to 23-1 and advanced to face Gahanna in a regional semifinal on 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Otterbein University. The Pioneers had their 13-game winning streak snapped and finished 22-2.
“We haven’t been a good free-throw shooting team all year long, but we made them when they counted,” Northland coach Dean Washington said. “That’s what it’s important.”
Forward Jasmine Weatherspoon made two free throws with 17.9 seconds remaining to give the Vikings a 49-47 lead and guard Alexis Peterson made two more with 2.8 seconds to extend Northland's advantage to 51-47. Orange point guard Taylor Agler then sank a long-range 3-pointer as time expired.
Peterson scored 13 of her game-high 27 points in the fourth quarter and Weatherspoon scored 10. Agler led the Pioneers with 22 points and guard Maddy Joseph had 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
Northland avenged a 50-49 loss to Orange on Dec. 12. In that contest, Weatherspoon missed a free throw in the waning seconds that could've forced overtime.
“This is refreshing,” said Weatherspoon, who had 10 points in the rematch. “I was thinking about (the loss to Orange) earlier. What if I have to shoot free throws again (with the game on the line)? (With 17.9 seconds left), I just said, ‘It’s just like practice. Take your time and do your thing.’”
Orange led 36-30 after the third quarter, but Northland rallied behind its full-court press, forcing the Pioneers to make five turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“They put three people on Taylor and forced our other girls to make decisions,” Orange coach Mary Ann Grimes said. “We didn’t handle that well and didn’t take care of the ball.”