Olentangy Orange High School senior forward Mya Walker believed she and her teammates simply had to “find our heart.”
The Pioneers trailed Gahanna Lincoln by 16 points midway through the third quarter March 5 in a Division I regional semifinal at Otterbein.
“We had to refocus because we were playing scared to lose,” Walker said.
Orange rallied to within five by the end of the third quarter, forced overtime at the end of regulation and went on to win their first regional tournament game 63-52.
Orange improved to 23-2 and will play Reynoldsburg or North Canton Hoover for the regional title at 7:15 p.m. March 8 at Otterbein. Gahanna finished 22-5.
“I thought (we) played well the whole game, but we just didn’t finish shots,” said Gahanna coach Rick Hauser, whose team forced 25 turnovers.
The Lions led 29-19 by halftime and took their biggest lead at 35-19 with 4 minutes, 40 seconds to go in the third period.
Despite foul trouble by Orange senior guard Taylor Agler, the Pioneers rallied to within 39-34 by the end of the third quarter.
Orange senior guard Maddy Joseph made three free throws with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter to cut it to 42-39 and the Pioneers took a 48-45 lead with 37.9 seconds left.
Gahanna senior guard Chrishna Butler forced overtime with a 3-pointer as time expired. In the extra session, however, Orange made 11 of 14 from the foul line.
Agler went 7-for-9 from the free-throw line and scored 20 points, Walker scored 19 points and Joseph was 6-for-6 from the foul line and finished with 11 points.
Senior guard Quiera Lampkins (15 points), Butler (10 points) and senior post player Zenobia Bess (10 points, 11 rebounds) led Gahanna.