Falls girls win; Champion upset

RAVENNA — From the agony of defeat, to the thrill of victory, tournament basketball is an emotional rollercoaster.

The Division III district semifinals played Wednesday at Ravenna High School were a perfect example. Top-seeded Champion was knocked off by fifth-seeded Waterloo, 55-45, then second-seeded Newton Falls edged third-seeded Garfield, 41-39 in overtime.

The Tigers will face Waterloo Saturday at 1 p.m. in the district title game.

Champion’s Megan Turner, who finished with 13 points, nailed one of her three 3-pointers to tie the game against Waterloo at 40 with 4:45 to go. She hit another 3 to give Champion the lead, 43-41, with 3 minutes remaining.

The season then came to a screeching halt for Champion as Waterloo went on a stunning 14-2 run over the last 2:30 to bounce the top seed from the tournament. The Vikings hit a couple of 3-pointers and Champion, which finishes the season with a 20-4 record, turned the ball over and missed shots down the stretch.

“We had a great season, but we picked the wrong time to have our worst game of the year. All of those shots and passes worked up until today,” Champion coach Michael Cole said. “We had about 30 turnovers for the game. We were missing point blank lay-ups. That’s not how we play. I had a great group of girls that worked hard.”

Newton Falls (17-7) knocked off Garfield (18-5) behind a strong performance from Izzy Kline. She scored 12 of her team’s first 16 points and finished with 25 for the game.

Falls led 22-16 at halftime, but was outscored 14-4 in the third and trailed 30-26 heading into the final quarter.

“Garfield came out strong to start the second half,” Newton Falls coach Mark Baker said. “We played horrible defense and tried to be too perfect on offense. They gained the momentum at that point.”

Leighann Knorzer hit a 3, with 3:30 to go, for Newton Falls to get the Tigers within 3 at 34-31. Kline’s strong move and ensuing free throw tied the game at 34 with 3 minutes left. A scoreless final 3 minutes resulted in a nail-biting finish that climaxed in overtime.

Kline continued her extraordinary play in OT. When she hit a 3, with two minutes left, Newton Falls went ahead 37-35. Alli Sembach’s two free throws, with 20 seconds remaining, iced the game. Garfield’s last second heave from half court fell short and Newton Falls advanced.

“It was two teams that wanted it badly. It was two teams that played with a lot of heart. Neither team wanted to give up or have their season come to an end. It was tough,” Kline said.

“I’m a little weak in the knees after that one. It was a classic battle. That’s the kind of game you’re going to see 9 out of 10 times between these two teams. Anyone that’s a fan knows what I’m talking about,” Baker said.

Newton Falls defeated Waterloo, 55-37, in a game back in December.

” We have to prepare for Waterloo and come with the same intensity that we did this game,” Kline said.

CHAMPION-WATERLOO

Champion’s Emma Gumont scored 10 of the Flashes’ first 12 points, and finished with a game-high 19 points. Abby White hit a 3-pointer with one second left to give Champion a 27-25 halftime lead.

The Vikings tied the game 32-32 with 1:30 left in the 3rd on a 3-pointer by Becky Adelman. Waterloo played tough D and outscored Champion 10-6 in the quarter to take a 35-33 lead into the 4th.

“We’re not arrogant, but we expect to win every game,” Waterloo coach Kevin Longanecker said. “We knew Champion is an outstanding team. We would have to do a lot of things extremely well to be in position to win the ball game. Fortunately, we did that.”

The Champion players were disappointed their season ended too soon.

” We had a good season. It’s disappointing to end on such a bad game. I feel so bad for the seniors. They are such great leaders that teach us so much. Good luck to Waterloo,” Allison Smith said.

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