By Brad Morris
Worthington Christian used its pressure and a balanced scoring attack on Monday to jump out to a 21-3 lead after a quarter of play on its way to a 53-36 Division III Central District semifinal win over Amanda-Clearcreek inside Pickerington Central High School.
The Aces were only able to muster four shots in the first quarter — a three-pointer by Taylor Evans accounting for their scoring — as they turned the ball over 13 times in the first half.
“Worthington Christian’s pressure really hurt us early, putting us into a 21-3 hole,” Amanda-Clearcreek coach Tim Leist said. “They were a very quick team and that disrupted us and affected us mentally.
Worthington Christian (23-1), ranked first in the final Division III Associated Press state poll of the season, shot 9 of 15 (60 percent) to pull away during the opening stanza. Jamie Custer made 4 of her 5 (80 percent) shots to lead the way with eight points, Meghan Mayotte canned all three of her attempts for six points and Natalie Woodfin buried a pair of three-pointers.
The Aces (14-11) regrouped and played with the top-seeded Warriors over the final three quarters but were unable to put much of a dent in their deficit.
Amanda-Clearcreek managed to outscore Worthington Christian 9-8 in the second quarter, with Emily Buckley scoring three points and Megan Tooill and Kaylie Wilson each connecting on a basket.
“After the first quarter we did settle down but trying to play catch up with the top-seeded team in the district is not easy,” Leist said. “We were able to get some open looks but we did miss a lot of open shots, which didn’t help our comeback bid.”
Custer led all scorers with 13 points, Winfree tallied 11 and Mayotte added 10 for the Warriors, who advance to a district final on Friday at Big Walnut High School against Harvest Prep.
Buckley and Wilson paced the Aces with 10 points apiece, Evans tallied seven and Hailey Sowers added five.
The Aces lose Buckley and Tooill to graduation. The senior duo helped lead the Aces to 29 wins and a pair of sectional titles over the last two seasons.
“I can’t say enough about Emily Buckley and Megan Tooill,” Leist said. “Two outstanding young ladies who were fine examples on-and-off the court. They definitely left their mark by guiding us to 29 wins the last two seasons and back-to-back district tournament appearances.
“We are truly going to miss them, and I can speak for the coaching staff when I say it was a pure joy and honor to coach them.”
Division III Central District semifinal
No. 1 Worthington Christian 53,
No. 7 Amanda-Clearcreek 36
AMANDA-CLEARCREEK — Emily Buckley 2-6-10, Rachel Weaver 1-0-2, Hailey Sowers 1-3-5, Taylor Evans 2-1-7, Megan Tooill 1-0-2, Kaylie Wilson 4-0-10. Three-point goals — Evans (2) and Wilson (2). Total — 11-41 10-13 36.
WORTHINGTON CHRISTIAN — Faith King 3-2-8, Jamie Custer 6-0-13, Natalie Woodfin 3-0-9, Brooke Winfree 5-1-11, Audrey Wilson 1-0-2, Meghan Mayotte 4-2-10. Three-point goals — Woodfin (3) and Custer. Total — 22-49 5-11 53.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Amanda-Clearcreek 3 9 12 12 36
Worthington Christian 21 8 12 12 53