ANDOVER - One reason behind the Chagrin Falls Tigers' 53-38 win over the Lakeview Bulldogs could be seen in the ceremonial cutting of the nets.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Hallie Thome didn't need to use many steps to get high enough to take her cuts at the nylon. Hallie's sister Hannah also took a short walk up the ladder with her 6-foot frame.
That overwhelming size proved too large of an obstacle for the Bulldogs, whose season ended in the Division II district championship game Saturday at Pymatuning Valley High School. Hallie not only blocked shots, she re-directed shots on drives and disrupted the inside passes of guards Alli and Abby Pavlik.
"It was really frustrating," Lakeview senior Lizzy Konitsney said. "You would think you were open and then she would swat the ball right back at you or catch it. She's a very good player. She's very tall and very athletic."
The Bulldogs weren't able to establish a rhythm on the offensive end. They were forced to work the perimeter because of the Tigers' zone defense. Drives to the basket were usually met with considerable resistance by Hallie.
Making matters worse were poor shooting efforts from the field and foul line. The Bulldogs were 14-of-47 from the field and 15-of-27 at the line.
"We beat ourselves today," Bulldogs coach Adam Lewis said. "I don't want to know how many free throws we missed. We made a lot of mistakes that you can't make at a district championship."
The Bulldogs weren't accustomed to facing an opponent with so much size. Lewis tried to prepare the players for what was coming by practicing with some taller boys on Friday.
"We've never seen anybody with that much size," Lewis said. "It's hard to re-create that in a game atmosphere. They change your shot and make it difficult to get clean shots off."
The lone hope for Lakeview was to go at Hallie and Hannah and get them into foul trouble. It worked, but a little too late. Hannah was called for her fourth foul at the 5:55 mark of the third quarter, and Hallie picked up her fourth late in the same period.
Tigers coach Brittany Anderson had the sisters on the bench for the late stages of the third period and the early part of the fourth. When they returned the Tigers had a commanding 44-27 lead.
"I don't want to say thankfully, but thankfully earlier in the season we faced those kinds of situations," Anderson said. "We had a conference game where both Hannah and Hallie fouled out. We've had other games where they've been in foul trouble, so our team has learned how to play without them on the floor and still be able to keep us together."
Hallie scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. She had eight points in the first quarter and 13 at halftime. Foul trouble and a keep-away offensive style to protect the lead cut down on her scoring in the second half.
Alli led the Bulldogs in scoring with 18 points. Konitsney was next with eight.
Lakeview led twice early but trailed after one quarter, 15-10. A nine-point run gave Chagrin Falls a 25-14 lead in the second quarter on the way to a 27-19 halftime advantage. The Tigers stretched their lead to 42-27 through three periods.
"It was a little too late when we finally got going and got her (Hallie) out of the game," Konitsney said. "We couldn't do anything else when she was out. They were quicker than we thought they would be."
The Bulldogs finished the season with a 19-4 record. The Tigers (20-3) advance to play Hathaway Brown in the Barberton regional.
"It's always disappointing to lose, but it doesn't take away anything from what we accomplished this year,'" Lewis said. "Last year's team achieved, but this year's team, in my opinion, overachieved. They did more than I thought they were capable of, and I'm proud of all the work they put in."