For the second time in three seasons, the Reynoldsburg High School girls basketball team saw its season end in a Division I state semifinal.
Ranked first in the final state poll, the Raiders lost to defending state champion Twinsburg 49-41 on March 16 at Ohio State.
Reynoldsburg finished 26-1, representing the best record in program history. The Raiders lost to eventual state champion Canton McKinley 42-39 in overtime in a state semifinal in 2010.
Twinsburg improved to 24-3 and will play Kettering Fairmont in the state final at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 17, at Ohio State. Fairmont defeated Toledo Notre Dame Academy 54-45 in the other semifinal March 16.
Guard Ashley Morrissette led Twinsburg with 19 points. Malina Howard, a 6-foot-5 post player who has signed with Maryland, had 13 points and 19 rebounds, and guard Leah Fechko added 14 points.
Senior guard Adesuwa Aideyman led the Raiders with 12 points, including a 3-pointer with 32 seconds remaining in the third quarter to tie the game at 32.
Twinsburg opened the fourth quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 38-32 lead with 5:16 remaining.
Reynoldsburg cut its deficit to 44-41 when senior guard Aliyah Zantt made a 3-pointer with just under a minute left, but the Tigers scored the final five points.
“It was a great basketball game,” Raiders coach Jack Purtell said. “In the second half, there might have been a fatigue factor for us."
Twinsburg outrebounded Reynoldsburg 34-22.
“We needed to win the boards today," Purtell said. "That was a big difference in my mind."
Sophomore post player Alyssa Rice had eight points and five rebounds for the Raiders and junior post player Destini Cooper added seven points and seven rebounds.
Behind nine points from Morrissette, Twinsburg led 15-11 after the first quarter, but Reynoldsburg outscored the Tigers 11-6 in the second quarter to take a 22-21 lead into halftime.
“These kids worked so hard to get here,” Purtell said. “They leave here with nothing but pride. My heart goes out to these seniors.”