The New Albany High School girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal by playing one of its most complete defensive games of the season.

The New Albany High School girls basketball team advanced to a Division I district semifinal by playing one of its most complete defensive games of the season.

Waiting for the 11th-seeded Eagles is second-seeded Pickerington North, a team known for being among the state's best each year.

The game is 8 p.m. Thursday, March 1, at Hilliard Davidson.

"We have a chance to play who I consider the best program in Ohio," said coach Jamie Puryear, whose team improved to 17-5 with a 34-24 win over 10th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round of the district tournament Feb. 22 at Davidson. "I know our kids will play with a lot of intensity and a lot of emotion. I have all the confidence that we'll match their intensity. We're looking for a shot at the district title game."

The Eagles last played North in 2010, losing a district final 68-56.

North, which was ranked fifth in the final Division I state poll, enters the game 20-2.

Both of its losses came against Reynoldsburg, the top-ranked team in the state and top seed in the district tournament. The Panthers opened tournament play with a 75-25 win over Westerville Central on Feb. 16 before cruising to a 94-12 win over Columbus West on Feb. 22.

The first two postseason games helped North solidify a lineup that was dealt a blow when starting guard Jaila Bryant, who averaged 12.8 points per game, tore a knee ligament on Feb. 7 during a 51-39 win over Lancaster.

That's the kind of season it's been for North, which lost forwards Ashley and Morgan Bassett-Smith to ineligibility before the season and forward Jessie Wachtman to a broken collarbone on Jan. 27.

North now features a balanced attack led by guards Christy Macioce and Emily Thomas. Macioce and Eagles guard Hannah Scipio play on the same AAU team.

Like Delaware (39-32 win Feb. 10) and Worthington Kilbourne (37-34 win in the first round of the tournament Feb. 18), UA played zone almost exclusively against New Albany. The Golden Bears limited touches for post player Kyasia Duling, who also battled foul trouble, but the strategy opened up the perimeter.

"We definitely need to look into (Duling) a lot, but when she's out we need to get our shooters going," Scipio said. "Once we really hit our shots, the team starts to get into our flow and that's when our defense can start to get into a rhythm as well."

Against UA, guards Chrissy Harris and Cheyenne Hartley-Carr each made a pair of second-half 3-pointers.

After the score was tied 12-all at halftime, Harris made a pair of 3-pointers to put New Albany ahead 20-14 with 2 minutes, 4 seconds left in the third quarter. UA tied it at 20 with 4:25 remaining, but Hartley-Carr made back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Eagles a 26-20 lead with 2:55 left.

Scipio was 7-for-8 at the foul line in the final 1:30.

"I think we usually kind of struggle coming into the zone," Harris said. "But once we get used to it and start passing the ball around, we get into a little bit more of a flow and our shooting and everything comes together."

Scipio finished with 19 points, Hartley-Carr scored nine and Harris added six.

The New Albany-North winner plays fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman or sixth-seeded Gahanna in a district final at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 3, at Davidson. That winner advances to a regional semifinal at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Otterbein University against third-seeded Olentangy Orange, fourth-seeded Northland, 12th-seeded Zanesville or Newark.

New Albany lost to Orange 38-29 on Dec. 16 and 46-39 on Jan. 27 in OCC-Capital Division play. The Eagles lost to Gahanna 39-34 on Dec. 29 in the Gahanna Cage Classic.

The regional final is 1 p.m. March 10 at Otterbein.