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Court Report

Girls Basketball: Kettering Fairmont ends Twinsburg's streak, wins Division I state title


COLUMBUS — It was a fitting finale for Associated Press Ms. Basketball Ashley Morrissette’s career.

It just didn’t end the way she wanted.

Makayla Waterman scored 24 points and hit a late clinching free throw and Kathryn Westbeld added 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead Kettering Fairmont to a 52-48 victory over two-time defending big-school champion Twinsburg on Saturday night, ending the Tigers’ 42-game winning streak.

Morrissette had 27 points, including 15 of her team’s 17 in the fourth quarter, for Twinsburg (29-1), which lost to an Ohio school for the first time in 73 games.

“I didn’t want it to be over,” said Morrissette, who’s committed to Purdue. “If I was going out, I was going out on my terms — shooting on my terms ... and fighting.”

The victory allowed the Firebirds (27-1) to atone for a 57-41 loss to Twinsburg in last year’s Division I state final.

The two junior post players were the biggest reason for the turnaround.

“Winning the state tournament was all we thought about,” said Waterman, the granddaughter of former Ohio State assistant and legendary high school coach Ben Waterman. “I think experience helped us. We had faith in each other. We bought in.”

The title was the Firebirds’ first after coming up short in four trips to the state’s Final Four.

The Tigers still had a chance to tie in the closing seconds after some incredible shooting by Morrissette. She hit a jumper with 1:03 left and 3-pointers with 41 and 24 seconds remaining to cut the Fairmont lead to 51-48.

After the Firebirds turned over the ball on a bad pass with 7.9 seconds left, Twinsburg set up for a possible tying shot, taking out the ball at the far end of the court. But Fairmont’s Alona Skipper got a hand on the inbounds pass and it went out of bounds off a Tigers player.

Waterman was then fouled with six seconds left and made the first of two free throws to clinch the win.

Division II

Hathaway Brown 56, West Holmes 44

Nia Marshall scored 17 points and added 18 rebounds to lead Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown to a victory over Millersburg West Holmes in the Division II final, giving the Blazers a record fifth consecutive state title.

The Blazers (23-6) broke a deadlock with Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame and South Euclid Regina, which had each won four in a row.

Marshall, second-team All-Ohio, scored all five of Hathaway Brown’s points over the first four-plus minutes of the final quarter, enabling it to play keep-away with the lead and the ball.

Rachelle Morrison had 13 points for West Holmes (28-2), which had beaten the Blazers on their home floor Dec. 1. Paiten Strother had 10 points.

Defense was a huge factor in the outcome as the Blazers put the clamps on first-team All-Ohioan Laina Snyder. Averaging almost

16 points a game, she had scored 26 points and added 19 rebounds in a semifinal victory over Dayton Chaminade-Julienne. But, surrounded every time she touched the ball, she was limited to eight points and six rebounds.

In the final minutes, barely grasping a lead against the pressing Lady Knights, the Blazers were content to work the ball around the perimeter and take time off the clock.

The Blazers were already assured of another record — becoming the only team in the girls tournament’s 38 years to make it to the Final Four in seven consecutive years.

Amazingly, they have won

36 tournament games in a row.

Division III

Anna 67, Africentric 49

Cayla Bensman had 21 points, Natalie Billing 17 and Erica Huber 15 as Anna defeated Columbus Africentric to win its second Division III championship in three years.

It was sweet revenge for Anna (26-4) against Africentric, which last year won its third title in six years with a 70-66 overtime win to snap the Rockets’ 50-game winning streak. Anna, which also won a state title in 1981, is 80-6 over the past three seasons.

“They were on a mission,” Africentric coach Will McKinley said of the Rockets.

That included Bensman, who as a freshman last season went

1-for-8 from the floor and had three points against Africentric.

“I’m a lot happier with my performance this year,” she said. “It really bothered me last year that I didn’t play as well as I know I could.”

Bensman had 15 points by halftime as Anna took a 33-20 lead.

The Rockets got the advantage despite just two points from leading scorer Billing, who played only six minutes because she picked up her second foul midway through the first quarter and sat on the bench for an extended period.

Africentric (22-6) reduced the deficit to 36-28 early in the third period but Anna pushed the lead to 50-34 at the end of the quarter on an inbounds pass to Billing, the third such play for the Rockets.

Division IV

Fort Loramie 57, Berlin Hiland 42

Fort Loramie coach Carla Siegel walked into her postgame interview session and offered an opening statement.

“My first comment is, ‘Finally!’” she said, breaking into a wide smile.

After a quarter of a century around the program, her Redskins won a long anticipated title.

Second-team Associated Press All-Ohioan Darian Rose scored

19 points and seemed to be in the middle of every big play down the stretch, leading Fort Loramie past Berlin Hiland in the Division IV final for its first state championship.

Siegel played at Fort Loramie, was an assistant coach for five years and the head coach for the past 14. The litany of disappointments in six previous trips to the Final Four came immediately to mind as her team closed out the big win.

Rose, a junior, hit all eight of her free throws and also had five rebounds and five assists as the Redskins (27-3) finally finished on top in their seventh trip to the state tournament.

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