Rosecrans claims D-IV crown behind Burdette's 24

RUSTY MILLER AP Sports Writer Published:

COLUMBUS (AP) -- Reedsville Eastern was hanging on and Jenna Burdette knew she had to make a difference.

She did more than that. She took over the game.

Burdette scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half -- accounting for all but seven of her team's points over that span -- to carry top-ranked Eastern past No. 3 Zanesville Rosecrans 49-38 in the Division IV girls state title game on Saturday.

"Well, I knew my first half had started out slowly. We were all a little nervous," the senior said. "I knew I had to step up both offensively and defensively. I just knew what I had to do and was able to do it at the end."

Burdette, an Associated Press first-team All-Ohioan and co-player of the year in the division, time and again made big shots and big plays as Eastern (27-1) got redemption for a semifinal loss a year ago in the school's only previous appearance at the state tournament.

Over the first 14:59 of the second half, Burdette scored 20 of the Eagles' 22 points. She scored her team's first five points of the third quarter before teammate Jordan Parker hit a rebound follow at the 3:36 mark to cap a 7-0 run that swelled the lead to 29-16.

Burdette then scored all of her team's points until Parker hit two foul shots with 1:01 remaining to push the lead to 46-38.

None were bigger than four midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bishops (27-2) pulled within 39-37 on a 3-pointer from the top of the key by Kloie Johnson at the 4:27 mark.

Burdette then drove to the basket and was fouled, hitting both shots.

After a Rosecrans miss, Burdette went to the hoop again, trying to draw a foul. Instead, in heavy traffic, she muscled her way through the paint and banked in a shot to make it 43-37.

Rosecrans coach Gale Kirkbride said his team tried to focus on staying in front of Burdette, cutting off her driving lanes and closing fast when she had an open shot. For the most part, he was pleased with his players' effort.

"She's a great player, there's no doubt about that," he said. "I really thought we did a heck of a job on her, to be honest with you. She got on a little roll there in the second half."

Burdette hit one more foul shot and then made way for her teammates. Parker, Katie Keller and Maddie Rigsby hit five of six free throws over the final 61 seconds to hold off the Bishops.

"We tried to calm down every foul shot they would take, take a breath or whatever," Burdette said. "We knew what we had to do on offense. We knew we could penetrate and kick or keep going. I don't know, it just worked."

At the half, Eastern led 22-16 while Burdette -- averaging 15.5 points a game -- had four points on just 2 of 8 shooting from the field. She was 0 for 3 from behind the arc.

John Burdette, Eastern's head coach and Jenna's father, said he wasn't even aware that his daughter wasn't more productive.

But when the pressure was turned up in the second half, he knew it was vital that the Eagles get the ball to her.

"At the end of the game in the huddle I said we want to get the ball back in Jenna's hands and let her either get to the bucket, get a foul, or make the right passes," he said.

Burdette ended up 9 of 17 from the field, 2 of 6 on 3-pointers and 4 of 6 at the line. She also had four rebounds, an assist and three steals.

Kirkbride said Jenna Burdette seemed to turn every 50-50 play into a plus for her team.

"It seemed like all the bounces kind of went (her way), but you make your own bounces. We were in position. We hit the ball and she was able to come back up with it," he said. "(She) just broke our back a couple of times, where we went from steals to her picking it back up and getting a layup or a shot -- and making it, of course."

Molly Nash had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Bishops, who were shooting for their fourth state championship but first since 1992.

Eastern had been to the state tournament a year ago but lost in the semifinals. That was a loss that burned in the minds of the Eagles.

"I had one of our freshmen look at me while Rosecrans was getting their medals and she said, 'Jordan, this doesn't even feel real,'" Parker said. "It really doesn't because this was a goal and you try to get to it -- and we did it! So it's really great."

D-II Championship

Millersburg West Holmes 62, Kettering Alter 45

COLUMBUS -- It's hard to beat experience -- particularly experience in the brightest of spotlights.

Millersburg West Holmes, one of the most historic girls' basketball programs in Ohio, proved that again on Saturday at Value City Arena.

Paiten Strother scored 18 points and Emily Molnar 15 to lead top-ranked West Holmes back from a poor start to a 62-45 victory over No. 2 Kettering Alter in the Division II girls' state championship game.

"This was our sixth time playing on this floor. And I think the sixth time was the charm," said Lady Knights coach Lisa Patterson, referring to her team's trips to the state each of the last three years including losses in the final the last two. "It's a matter of (our players) being so confident. They weren't going to let somebody take this away from them."

The title was the fourth for West Holmes (29-0) but first since its unapproached and unprecedented 108-game winning streak that included the three previous titles in 1984-86.

Alter (29-1) led 7-0 almost 4 minutes into the game, but behind Strother and Molnar, West Holmes scored 23 of the next 27 points and was never headed.

Libby Bazelak had 16 points for Alter, which hadn't really been tested all season -- winning by at least 12 points in every game until a 50-47 win in the semis against Toledo Rogers. Alter started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. West Holmes' first team Associated Press All-Ohioan and co-player of the year in the division Laina Snyder was held to just eight points -- only two through three quarters -- but did grab 11 rebounds.

The Lady Knights' depth, tenacious defense and unselfishness with the ball more than made up for Snyder's lack of scoring.

Strother scored the first five points for her team and had eight by halftime when the Lady Knights were in control.

"I was confident," she said. "I knew it was my last high school game and I just wanted to give it everything I had."

D-III Championship

Columbus Africentric 49,

Versailles 37

COLUMBUS -- Seldom is a girls team as quick as Columbus Africentric also so careful with the basketball.

The Nubians paired a lethal trapping defense with the ability to hold onto the ball for good shots to beat Versailles, 49-37, on Saturday night in the Division III state championship game.

"We practice a lot of just holding onto the basketball for two minutes," said Africentric coach Will McKinney. "A lot of teams don't realize what a weapon that can be when you have the ability to keep the ball away from the other team for two minutes. If you can do that in a game, whatever kind of lead you have you can kind of expand on it."

That's exactly what the Nubians did.

Sierra Harley had 14 points off the bench and Alexa Hart set the tone with six blocked shots in the first seven minutes as the Nubians (27-2), who lost in the title game last year after winning it in 2012, captured their fourth title. They became just the eighth school to have won at least four state championships.

Staked to an early lead, they never let go.

The imposing presence of the 6-foot-2 Hart, a first-team Associated Press All-Ohioan, helped Africentric grab an early double-digit lead. After Hart left with foul trouble, the Nubians were content to patiently work for baskets while continuing with their high-pressure defense.

Ahead by nine at the half, the Nubians pulled away by badgering the ball-handler at one end and then playing unselfish, spread-the-court at the other.

"We dug ourselves a pretty big hole and it's hard to come back on a team that can handle the pressure like they can. They really took it to us (with) their defense," said Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker. "They were quicker than we were. We couldn't adjust to that very well."

The teams traded points in the third quarter until Africentric held Versailles scoreless for almost 6 minutes in a mini, 6-0 run. The Nubians were content to patiently work the ball around, passing and cutting while awaiting someone to slash to the basket or find an open seam.

Late in the game, up by 10, the Nubians' quick guards just played keep-away as they were chased by the trapping Tigers.

"The nice thing is that the state of Ohio doesn't have a shot clock," McKinney said. "If you have a decent team with two or three ball handlers, that's a great weapon to have."

Second-team All-Ohioan Christa Puthoff and Emily Harman both had nine points for ninth-ranked Versailles.

Versailles was seeking its second state championship, after winning the biggest trophy in 2008. This was the Tigers' sixth trip to the state final four.

Friday Semifinals

D-I: Dublin Coffman 61,

North Canton Hoover 44

COLUMBUS -- Third-team all-stater Kaylee Stroemple had 18 points and fell only two points shy of matching Dublin Coffman in the first half in leading North Canton Hoover to a 61-44 victory on Friday in a Division I girls state semifinal.

Hoover is 26-2 and is ranked No. 5 in the final Associated Press regular-season poll. It will play for its second state title against top-ranked Cincinnati Princeton and Ms. Basketball Kelsey Mitchell, who beat Toledo Notre Dame 60-52.

Second-team All-Ohioan Julie Worley had 16 points, and first-teamer Marquia Turner had 14.

Kamerine Taylor hit her first four 3-pointers and ended up 5 of 8 with 17 points for Coffman, which is 22-7.

The Lady Vikings were powered by a 24-2 edge in points in the paint. They led 32-18 at the half as Stroemple had 16.

D-I: Cincinnati Princeton 60,

Toledo Notre Dame 52

COLUMBUS -- Ms. Basketball Kelsey Mitchell scored 23 points and top-ranked Cincinnati Princeton beat Toledo Notre Dame Academy 60-52 Saturday night in a Division I girls state semifinal at Ohio State's Value City Arena.

Carlie Pogue added 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Lady Vikings (27-2), who shoot for their second big-school state title in Saturday's final.

Mitchell also had six assists, four rebounds and a steal.

Tierra Floyd, like Mitchell a first-team all-stater, had 21 points for the seventh-ranked Eagles (24-4), with Kaayla Mcintyre adding 16.

Princeton outscored Notre Dame 12-5 in the third quarter and then hung on by hitting 7 of 10 free throws in the last 1:03 -- three by Mitchell, who is headed to Ohio State along with her twin sister, Chelsea.

D-III: Versailles 67,

Proctorville Fairland 60

COLUMBUS -- Second-team Associated Press All-Ohioan Christa Puthoff had 15 points and Versailles hit seven of eight free throws in the final minute to hold off Proctorville Fairland 67-60 in a Division III girls state semifinal on Friday.

Katie Heckman added 13 of the Tigers' 27 bench points and Lauren Bruns scored 10.

Versailles (24-3), chasing its second state title, meets Columbus Africentric, a 44-22 winner over Smithville, in Saturday's championship game.

Unranked Fairland (22-4) led by 10 points early but the Tigers went on a 10-2 run to start the fourth quarter to go up by 12. The Dragons pulled as close as five before ninth-ranked Versailles put the game away at the line.

Caitlin Stone had 15 points, Taylor Perry 13 and Terra Stapleton 11 for Fairland.

D-III: Columbus Africentric 44, Smithville 22

COLUMBUS -- First-team Associated Press All-Ohioan Alexa Hart had eight points and 11 blocked shots to lead Columbus Africentric past Smithville 44-22 on Friday in a Division III state girls semifinal.

Ayrielle Stith scored 11 points for the Nubians (26-2).

Africentric, ranked eighth in the final regular-season Associated Press poll, goes for its fourth championship in the last eight years on Saturday.

Hart, who was co-player of the year in the division, is an Ohio State signee.

With the score tied at 9, the Nubians scored 15 of the next 20 points. When Smithville pulled within six points early in the final quarter, Stith hit a 3, made a steal and then had a long assist to start a 16-0 run.

Olivia Besancon led unranked Smithville (26-3) with nine points.

Myles earns D-IV all-tourney honors

COLUMBUS -- Jenna Burdette, who scored 20 of Reedsville Eastern's 22 points during one span of the second half of the championship game, is the most outstanding player on the 2014 Associated Press Division IV all-tournament team.

Burdette had 38 points in a semifinal victory over Fort Loramie, then had 24 points -- 20 in the final two quarters -- of Eastern's 49-38 victory over Zanesville Rosecrans in the title game.

Teammate Jordan Parker (18 points in two games) joined her on the all-tournament team along with Rosecrans' Molly Nash (26 points, 19 rebounds in two games); Holgate's Marissa Myles (19 points and 11 rebounds in a semifinal loss); and Fort Loramie's Darian Rose (26 points, 12 rebounds in a semifinal defeat).

Three Knights receive D-II honors

COLUMBUS -- Paiten Strother, Emily Molnar and Laina Snyder all represented champion Millersburg West Holmes on the 2014 Associated Press Division II all-tournament team.

They'll share the most-outstanding award also.

Top-ranked West Holmes (29-0) won the title Saturday with a 62-45 victory over second-ranked Kettering Alter.

Strother had 18 points in the final while Molnar had 15. Snyder was limited to eight points but had 11 rebounds -- after totaling 21 points and 11 rebounds in a semifinal win over Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Others on the all-tournament team include: St. Vincent-St. Mary's Jordan Korinek (24 points, 11 rebounds in the semifinal loss); Toledo Rogers' Akienreh Johnson (8 points, 7 rebounds in a semifinal loss); and Alter's Emma Bockrath (23 points in two games) and Libby Bazelak (22 points in two games).

Hart's 17 blocks earn D-III award

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Africentric's Alexa Hart scored 17 points in two games and matched that with 17 game-changing blocked shots and is the most outstanding player on the 2014 Associated Press Division III all-tournament team.

Hart blocked 11 shots in a semifinal victory over Smithville and had six in the opening seven minutes of Saturday night's 49-37 championship-game victory over Versailles.

Joining her on the all-tournament team are teammates Sierra Harley (18 points in two games off the bench) and Alexis Parks (15 points, 3 assists); Versailles' Christa Puthoff (24 points in two games); and Proctorville Fairland's Caitlin Stone (15 points) and Terra Stapleton (11 points, 8 rebounds) in a semifinal loss.

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