COLUMBUS — Chippewa led its state semifinal game from the start — but unfortunately for the Chipps, it just didn’t finish.
Waynesville’s Marcella Sizer flipped in a short bank shot at the overtime buzzer to stun the Chipps 41-39 in a Division III girls basketball state semifinal Thursday at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.
The Spartans were ahead for just 54 seconds in the 36-minute game, but they were in front when it mattered most, advancing to Saturday’s title game against Columbus Africentric in a matchup of 27-0 teams, the final two unbeatens in Ohio. Africentric defeated Berlin Hiland 61-48 in the first semifinal.
Chippewa (25-2), which lost an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter, got two free throws from All-Ohioan Celina Koncz with 14.4 seconds left in regulation to force overtime.
In the extra session, Bailey Clark hit a twisting layup with 2:16 on the clock to give the Chipps a 39-37 lead, but Waynesville first-team All-Ohio guard Rachel Murray tied it with two free throws at the 2:02 mark.
The two teams traded misses before Chippewa committed a turnover — its 23rd of the game — to give the Spartans a final shot.
That turned into three shots, as Murray missed a jumper, with the 6-foot Sizer grabbing the rebound and flinging it toward the basket as the last seconds ticked away. The ball caromed hard off the rim right back to her, and the senior let it go with her left hand just before time ran out. It kissed off the backboard and through the hoop, touching off a wild celebration and sending the Spartans to their first state final in school history.
“I knew I had to get the rebound,” said Sizer, who finished with a team-high 13 points and game-high 16 rebounds. “I just knew I had to get it back and get it up there and in.”
“They were battling for the rebounds and so were we, and they were able to get the shot off,” Chippewa coach Denny Schrock said. “I just saw it go through and it was like, ‘OK, let’s go shake hands.’ There’s not one thing we could do differently on that play.”
The end was devastating for Chippewa, which snapped a 20-game winning streak. The Chipps had plenty of opportunities in regulation to secure the win on the third trip to state in program history.
Koncz, who scored a game-high 20 points to go with 11 rebounds, drilled a 3-pointer and then a 15-footer for a 20-11 Chippewa lead early in the second quarter. But the Chipps didn't score again in the quarter, committing eight turnovers, and even though Waynesville shot just 3-of-17 in the quarter, it trailed only 20-15 at halftime.
After leading 32-21 to start the fourth quarter, the Chipps opened the quarter with turnovers on five consecutive possessions as the Spartans cut their deficit to 32-29 with half of the final quarter to go.
Chippewa, which scored seven points in the fourth quarter and overtime, got 10 points and eight rebounds from Grace Lindquist, one of four senior starters along with Clark (four assists), Bailee Ferrell (four steals) and Kierra Amelung.