The ninth-seeded Reynoldsburg girls basketball team withstood a second-half rally by third-seeded Westerville South to earn its second consecutive Division I district championship and ninth title in 11 years.

The Raiders led by as many as 16 points in the first half and 35-21 at halftime, but needed clutch free-throw shooting in overtime to pull out a 61-57 win Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Reynoldsburg, which had lost to South 64-59 on Jan. 21, improved to 19-7 and advanced to play Pickerington Central in a regional semifinal March 3 at Otterbein.

“We have great kids,” Reynoldsburg coach Jack Purtell said. “They work hard, they love each other. We’re lucky to have such kids who play hard all the time and we’re young. … There wasn’t any expectation. When we went to the tournament draw, we just wanted to get to this game. We thought it would be a good experience moving forward and here we are.”

With the game tied at 53 at the end of regulation, Reynoldsburg went 6-for-8 from the foul line in overtime.

Makiya Miller led the Raiders with 16 points, followed by Kyria Walker with 14 and Jamiona Ross with 12.

Saddled with foul trouble for most of the game, Aja Austin scored 18 of her game-high 20 points in the second half and overtime to lead South.

Gabby Hutcherson added 14 points for the Wildcats, who finished 20-5.

South, which was making its fourth consecutive appearance in a district final, played its final six games without senior guard and Ohio State commit Anyssa Jones, who was sidelined with a high left ankle sprain. 

Pickerington Central 43, Watterson 40

Jocelyn Tate had 10 points and Skye Williams scored nine as the fifth-seeded Tigers held off the second-seeded Eagles to win their fifth consecutive Division I district championship Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

Central improved to 21-5 and advanced to play Reynoldsburg in a regional semifinal March 3 at Otterbein.

Madison Greene and Nicole Stephens both added eight points for the Tigers, who led 26-18 midway through the third quarter before Watterson closed the period on an 8-1 run and briefly took a one-point early in the fourth. But Greene scored four points in a row to put Central back ahead and had a 3-pointer with 2:21 left to make it 36-34.

Stephens added two layups down the stretch and the Tigers went 6-for-9 from the foul line to seal the win.

“Everything we tried to execute, they made it tough,” Central coach Johnathan Hedgepeth said. “We had a lot of problems defensively. They fought over screens well so our screens were never effective. They just played us tough and we missed a lot of layups as well.”

Kilyn McGuff had a game-high 16 points and Danielle Grim added 10 to pace Watterson, which finished 23-3 and had a seven-game winning streak snapped. The Eagles were seeking their first district championship since 2004.

“(We) just could not get over the hump,” Watterson coach Tom Woodford said. “They took advantage of a few of our matchups around the basket late, but we went up one three or four different times. I couldn’t be happier with this group.”

—Dave Purpura

Gahanna 52, Dublin Coffman 39

A slow start didn’t prevent the fourth-seeded Lions from winning their second Division I district championship in three seasons.

Gahanna trailed 9-0 but closed to within one point by the end of the first quarter and took the lead for good late in the second period on its way to beating the seventh-seeded Shamrocks on Feb. 29 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

“It means a lot,” Lions senior guard Edyn Battle said. “It’s very hard to do and we’re just going to keep going.”

Gahanna improved to 20-6 and advanced to face Newark in a regional semifinal March 3 at Otterbein. Coffman, which also lost to the Lions 59-55 on Jan. 25, finished 22-3.

“We’re on a 17-game winning streak, so nothing can break us at this point,” Lions senior guard Morgan Darnell said. “We knew we had it and we were going to figure it out.”

The game was tied at 20 before Gahanna closed the second period on a 5-0 run that included a basket by Bella Ward and three points from Battle.

The Lions forced seven turnovers in the second quarter.

In the third quarter, Gahanna held Coffman to 2-for-8 shooting from the floor and built a 37-29 lead.

Battle, who missed nine of her first 11 shots from the floor, scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half. Ward added 11 points and Gabby Anderson scored eight for the Lions.

Senior Juliana Burris led the Shamrocks with 11 points and sophomore Imarianah Russell added seven.

“They’re a good team,” Coffman coach Adam Banks said. “We tried to do some different things. They responded pretty well and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit for not cracking.”

—Jarrod Ulrey

Newark 73, Canal Winchester 36

Gwen Stare’s game-high 15 points led a balanced effort as the top-seeded Wildcats overcame a slow start in a Division I district final Feb. 29 at the Great Columbus Convention Center to rout the 14th-seeded Indians for the third time this season.

Emma Shumate and Maddie Vejsicky each added 13 points and Gabby Stare scored 11 for Newark, which improved to 24-2 and advanced to face Gahanna in a regional semifinal March 3 at Otterbein.

The Wildcats won the two OCC-Capital games between the teams during the regular season by a combined 64 points, and pulled away in the district final by starting the second quarter on a 23-4 run after leading 21-13.

Canal Winchester, which committed 23 turnovers, was appearing in a district final for the first time since 1982, when it won the program’s most recent district title and third in as many years.

The Indians finished 20-6, their first 20-win season since 1985-86. The loss snapped their 11-game winning streak.

Shalea Byrd led Canal Winchester with 13 points and Amanda Rarick scored 10.

“They put a lot of pressure on us that we didn’t handle well early on,” Indians coach Mark Chapman said. “Sometimes when those things happen and you start to struggle, it snowballs a little bit and things got away from us.”

Most of the third quarter and all of the fourth was played with a running clock because Newark led by more than 35 points.

“We were a little slow offensively (in the first quarter), but our defensive effort was really good,” Wildcats coach J.R. Shumate said. “We talked about being instinctive on offense and the offense started clicking. We hadn’t been making great decisions in transition … but we got it straightened out.”

—Dave Purpura

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