Yeah, the Hayes-Dublin Jerome game may have set offense back 50 years, but defenses were strictly 21st century.
The two teams combined for just 21 points in the first half, but the defenses kept the game close throughout, and the Pacers staved off a modest Celtic run late for a 27-24 victory in their Division I tournament opener at Orange High School.
“I really enjoyed watching both defenses,” Hayes coach Erin Margraf said. “They just played outstanding. They knew when to press and when to back off.”
While offense was at a premium, defense was certainly not. Hayes’ (10-11) defense held Dublin Jerome (11-10) in single digits all game long, but the Celtics did the same to the Pacers.
Rebounding helped Hayes as well. Despite Jerome holding a 32-24 edge on the boards, the Celtics had just 10 offensive boards, and just four in the second half.
“I was really impressed with our rebounding tonight,” Margraf said. “We weren’t expecting to outrebound them because they’re so tall, but we expected to at least compete and I thought we did a nice job preventing second and third chances.”
Hayes senior Paige Stimmel hit two free throws with 5:24 left in the first quarter. The first bucket didn’t come until Dublin Jerome senior Lindsay Rieland hit a jumper with 3:23 left in the quarter to tie the score at 2-2.
Hayes scored the final four points of the first to take a 6-2 lead, and led 13-8 at the half, helped by a three-pointer by sophomore Kristen McMillen with seven seconds left in the second quarter.
Jerome rallied to take the lead in the third, holding the Pacers scoreless for the first half of the period, but Hayes pushed back, going on a 9-2 run the rest of the quarter for a 22-18 lead after three.
The Pacers would extend the lead to seven points, 25-18, early on in the fourth, and led 26-20 with two minutes left, but the Celtics’ Madison Watson hit two shots in just under a minute and a half to trim the lead to two, 26-24, with 31 seconds to go.
But Hayes stayed patient, and let Jerome foul. Stimmel hit the front end of a one-and-one to give the Pacers a three-point edge, and the Celtics’ last two shots were denied. Defense, again, had won the day.
Stimmel topped all scorers with 13 points on the night, including one three-pointer. McMillen finished with six points, also knocking down a three, and sophomore Julie Bauer closed with four points, adding a trey of her own.
Watson led the Celtics with eight points, including four in the final quarter.
Liberty 31, Logan 27
The Patriots opened postseason play with a well-earned win Wednesday at Hilliard Davidson, knocking off Logan in a Division I Central District showdown.
The game was close throughout, with Liberty (10-11) taking control thanks to a big third quarter. Already up 10-8 at halftime, the Patriots more than doubled their first half offensive output in the third quarter alone, outscoring Logan 11-4 to give them a lead they never relinquished.
Gabriela Martin, Maddie Redwine and Kennedy Wilke led Liberty in the win, finishing with respective point totals of 13, 8 and 6.
With the win, Liberty will take on sixth-seeded Gahanna in Tuesday’s sectional final back at Hilliard Davidson.