MASSILLON - Coming into the Division IV regional final against Berlin Hiland, the Maplewood Rockets knew that it would take a perfect performance to beat the second ranked team in the state.
The Rockets fell short of that flawless performance, losing to the Hawks at Massillon Perry High School, 58-41.
"We knew their reputation," Yoder said. "We knew what kind of team they were like, and we knew we had to play an almost perfect game to beat them.
Tribune Chronicle / Michael Taylor
From left, Maplewood’s Brooke Dawson, Ryley Urchek, Morgan Hansel, Allison Bell and Amanda Henderlight, react in the final minutes of Saturday night’s regional final game against Berlin Hiland. The Rockets lost, 58-41.
"Unfortunately, we didn't play a perfect game, but we played extremely hard and did everything we could."
The Rockets (22-6) gave Berlin Hiland (25-3) a scare midway through the third quarter.
After the Hawks amassed a 12-point halftime lead, Maplewood came out on fire from beyond the arc. The Rockets' Allison Bell, Miranda Sloan and Amanda Henderlight hit three 3-pointers in the half and used them to go on a 16-6 run that made it a 30-26 with under 4 minutes remaining.
Despite Maplewood's struggles in the first half (33.3 percent shooting and 14 turnovers), Berlin Hiland coach Dave Schlabach expected the Rockets to come out of the gates firing in the third.
"(Maplewood's) here for a reason," Schlabach said. "We thought they were a good team, we liked how they battle. It didn't surprise us. We felt like we were going to have to continue to play."
As if on cue, the Hawks' 3-point shooting lit up Maplewood again, putting away the game for good.
Berlin Hiland's Megan Beachy drained a 3 on the next possession to curb Maplewood's momentum, and after a couple of 3-pointers by Regina Hochstetler and Kendra Schlabach, the Hawks' lead returned to double digits.
The Hawks shot 6 of 18 from beyond the arc.
"They wouldn't miss a 3-point shot," Yoder said. "Every time we left them open it was going in. When they have an opportunity to score, they're going to do it. Unfortunately, we gave them those opportunities a little too often."
Following Berlin Hiland's 3-point barrage late in the third quarter, Maplewood struggled once again offensively, missing its next four shots and turning the ball over at a higher frequency.
Overall, the Rockets committed 22 turnovers in the game.
"We felt that we were making the comeback," Bell said. "We picked up the intensity. We knew it was going to be a game, but a couple of things didn't go our way. Unfortunately, it cost us the game."
Once the game ended, Yoder said the players should be proud of their accomplishments, as the Rockets made their first regional in program history and were one game away from playing in Columbus.
"They got nothing to be ashamed about," Yoder said. "They should be proud when they walk out of the locker room and hold their heads up high because they did make history this year."
Bell, who became the program's all-time leading scorer and became the first player in the program's history to break 1,000 career points, reiterated her coach's words after the game. She, along with Henderlight and Kendra Garlock, are the team's three graduating seniors.
Bell finished the season with 10 points against Hiland. Teammate Miranda Sloan added 11 and Brooke Dawson had a team-high 12.
"Coming in here, I didn't expect my senior year to go like it did, but it's amazing," Bell said. "It's an amazing feeling to know that we made it history and I made history myself. I'm so proud of these girls."