A strong season ended with cold early shooting and a big disadvantage in rebounding, as the Newark High School girls basketball team lost to Toledo Notre Dame Academy 75-59 in a Division I state semifinal March 17 at Ohio State.
Newark, which was ranked first in the final state poll, finished 28-1.
Notre Dame Academy improved to 26-3 and will play Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame (25-4) in the state final March 18.
“They were very physical and we got off to a rough start,” coach J.R. Shumate said. “I think the decisive number was rebounds. We gave up too many second shots and easy shots and when you do that, you pay the price.”
Ariel Cummings, a 6-foot-2 post player, came off the bench to score 28 points and grab 14 rebounds to lead Notre Dame Academy. An injury leading into the state semifinal opened the door for her to play more minutes and she took advantage.
The Wildcats, who were making their second state appearance and also lost in a semifinal in 2014-15, were outrebounded 46-29. Included in that was a 14-2 disadvantage in the first quarter when Newark fell behind 17-9. The rebounding margin was 28-10 at halftime as the Eagles led 33-16.
“It was an unbelievable performance by Ariel,” said Notre Dame Academy coach Travis Galloway, whose team has reached state in five of the past six seasons. “She just had her best game in the regional final with 12 points and 10 rebounds.”
Although Newark had a 19-18 rebounding edge in the second half, it couldn’t overcome the scoring deficit. The Wildcats, who trailed 54-34 entering the fourth quarter, got as close as 69-55 with just over two minutes remaining.
Gabby Stare scored 16 points and Emily Paul added 12 to lead Newark, which shot 38.6 percent from the floor (22-for-57), including just 4-for-19 from 3-point range. Morgan Sharps and Olivia Fox both scored nine.
Mariah Copeland scored 13 points and Bre Hampton-Bey added 11 for the Eagles.