WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- With a Division I regional semifinal double header on Tuesday, Otterbein was host to some big-time girls basketball. Let's take a look at both games.
The defending state champs advanced to the regional final in convincing fashion as Pickerington Central rolled past Westerville South, 71-44.
Pickerington Central found themselves in unfamiliar territory early on in tonight’s game. The Tigers were on their heels, as they were trailing 12-4 with all things going the Wildcats’ way.
Westerville South played phenomenal half court defense making every look for Pickerington Central a tough one on the offensive end.
Westerville South played the perfect first quarter, leading 15-9 through eight minutes.
That lead was short lived as the Tigers showed its Championship DNA for the ensuing 24 minutes. Outscoring the Wildcats 62-29 from that point forward, Central dominated the game. Using a 25-point third quarter, Central went into halftime leading 34-25.
Central carried that momentum over into the second half, opening the third quarter up on a 14-0 run and never looking back.
Maliya Perry led Central in scoring with 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists, powering the Tigers to yet another regional final appearance.
Sophomore forward Jocelyn Tate was the defensive spark that got the Tigers going, as she was everywhere on the court finishing with 13 points, five rebounds and five steals. Senior guard Madison Greene was the third Tiger in double figures, adding 14 points.
For Westerville South, junior wing Anyssa Jones scored a game-high 20 points as she was aggressive and in attack mode all night. The Ohio State commit surpassed 1,000 career points in the Wildcats’ district title win on Saturday and will look to bring Westerville South back to the regionals a year from now. Sophomore post Aja Austin was the only other Wildcat in double figures, adding 11 points.
Pickerington Central advances to the regional final to take on Reynoldsburg on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Otterbein.
Reynoldsburg is on a mission. The Raiders are hoping that mission will end in a state championship. Senior post Uju Ezeudu put her stamp on the regional semifinals and brought Reynoldsburg one step closer with a dominant performance in leading the Raiders over Newark, 47-40.
While Newark had the early advantage, going on a 6-0 run to end the first quarter to lead 11-9 after eight minutes, it was all Reynoldsburg from this point on.
After going into halftime leading 19-15, Reynoldsburg broke the game open in the early moments of the third quarter. Going on a 12-2 run in the first four and a half minutes of the period, the Raiders opened up the game leading 31-17 with 3:32 to go.
Newark climbed back, cutting the deficit to single digits behind its full court pressure, however, the Wildcats could not get the stops and hit the shots to overcome a Reynoldsburg team that could not be denied behind its senior stud Ezeudu.
Ezeudu continued a dominant tournament run with 23 points and 12 rebounds, powering the Raiders with her physical post play. After going for 20 points and 11 rebounds in the district title win, Ezeudu continued her high-level play against an elite opponent in Newark who beat the Raiders in their first meeting earlier in the year.
Outside of Ezeudu, freshman wing Alexia Mobley added 14 points, as she stepped up when the Raiders needed her most. The 6-foot-2 freshman is only growing and has high, high-major potential.
For Newark, standout seniors Katie Shumate and Morgan Sharps finished their careers with eight points and six points, respectively. The duo accomplished a ton in the last four years, including multiple OCC titles and a state tournament appearance in 2017. Shumate now moves on to Kent State while Sharps will continue her career at Miami (OH).
Sophomore forward Emma Shumate and junior forward Gabby Stare led the Wildcats with 13 points each. The slow tempo of Tuesday's game favored Reynoldsburg, as the Raiders were able to get Ezeudu involved early and often in the post.
Reynoldsburg advances to the regional final to take on Pickerington Central on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Otterbein. The Raiders are the only team in the state to play within double digits of the Tigers, falling on the road 56-48 on Feb. 1 after losing by 24 points in the previous meeting.
Reynoldsburg is hoping round three will allow the Raiders the chance to pull the upset of the season in girls basketball on Friday in the regional final.