PITSBURG – Alexis Abner scored her 1,000th career point and Abby Ross hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to force overtime, but it wasn’t enough for the Lady Trojans.
The Arcanum girls basketball team lost 49-42 to Northwestern in overtime of its Ohio High School Athletic Association sectional tournament opener on Tuesday at Franklin Monroe to end its season.
“Our girls played their tails off tonight,” Arcanum coach Matt Grote said. “Didn’t come out on the side we wanted to but they fought, they persevered, they played together, sent that game into overtime when a lot of teams couldn’t execute and do that play right there. Couldn’t be prouder of these girls.”
Arcanum slowed down the pace of the game early on, which resulted in the Trojans leading 7-5 through one quarter and 14-12 at halftime.
Northwestern’s offense started to pick up in the second half with the Warriors beginning the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 20-14 lead. After almost five-and-a-half scoreless minutes to start the third quarter, Arcanum got some points but found itself down 26-19 entering the fourth quarter.
Arcanum started to chip away at its seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter with Stevie Johnting, Alexis Abner and Abby Ross each making baskets. With just over three minutes remaining in the period Abner drove inside and scored to reduce the deficit to 33-28 and give her 1,000 career points.
“It’s a great career mark, great career mark,” Grote said. “I know she would have liked to have gotten it done a little sooner, but the biggest thing is she got it done. She works hard every day. That’s a great kid. She has a lot of good things to come in the future.”
Arcanum continued to battle back with Madison O’Daniel, Rebecca Deao, Johnting and Brittany Kinney scoring to reduce the deficit to just one point with less than 10 seconds remaining.
Northwestern hit a pair of free throws to increase its lead to three points with just 2.8 seconds remaining before Arcanum got some late-game heroics to force overtime.
The Trojans inbounded the ball and got it down the floor to Ross, who drained a 3-pointer in front of two defenders as time expired to tie the game at 39-39 and force overtime.
“I knew we had it in us,” Grote said. “I knew seven (points) would be tough to come over, and it came down to that last shot. But situations is something we work on every day. We knew exactly what we were going to do. It worked exactly like we drew it up, exactly like we work on in practice. I was surprised that it worked that well. But she caught; she had composure; she knocked it down. That’s a big shot for a senior. I wish we would have finished it for her.”
Arcanum’s momentum evaporated in the overtime period, though, as Northwestern outscored the Trojans 10-3 to win by seven.
Johnting led Arcanum with 18 points in Tuesday’s loss. Also for the Trojans, Abner scored seven points, Deao scored seven, Ross scored six, O’Daniel scored three, and Kinney scored one.
Katelyn Partlow led Northwestern with a game-high 19 points. Also for the Warriors, Korynne Berner scored 11 points, Jenna Robbins scored 10, Abby Zerkle scored six, Lindsey Seale scored two, and Cameryn Ciresi scored one.
The loss ended Arcanum’s season with a 13-10 record in Grote’s first year leading the program.
“For a first year in the program I thought we did a lot things right,” he said. “There’s some things we would have liked to have done better execution-wise. But we knew it would be a process. We knew it would take time. We thought we got a great match up in the tournament. I couldn’t be prouder of these girls.
The loss also marked the end of the high school basketball careers of Arcanum’s three seniors: Abner, Deao and Ross.
“These girls have been around for four years,” Grote said. “You know, this is my first year. They’ve held these girls together. They show up. They work hard every day. That’s not easy to replace those three girls. Those are great basketball players, but that’s a great group of people, too.”