Division III Regional
WHERE: Ohio Northern University/Lexington High School.
TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE: Liberty-Benton (25-1) vs. Ottawa-Glandorf (23-2), Tuesday, 6:15 at Ohio Northern; Amanda-Clearcreek vs. Western Reserve, Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Lexington.
REGIONAL FINAL: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. at Lexington.
NOTABLE: Ottawa-Glandorf will be trying to win its fourth straight regional championship this week. The Titans were state runner-up in Division III in 2015 and Division II in 2016, and last season, O-G was a Division II state semifinalist. Liberty-Benton, meanwhile, is making its second straight regional appearance and seventh in the last 10 seasons. The Eagles will be looking for their first regional title since 2012.
The two teams have squared off on a regular basis, whether in the regular season, tournament or both. O-G, which finished No. 9 in the final Division III Associated Press poll, handed L-B (No. 7) its only loss of the season on Dec. 30. The Titans used a 27-16 fourth quarter advantage to edge the Eagles 58-53. O-G has won the last four matchups, including a 57-41 Division III district final win in 2015. The Eagles had won the nine matchups before that, including a 72-58 district final win in 2014.
A pair of standout players for O-G and L-B reached milestones in their team’s district final wins Saturday. O-G senior Kadie Hempfling, a three-time Western Buckeye League player of the year, became the school’s all-time leading scorer in the Titans’ 55-40 win over Convoy Crestview. Hempfling scored 25 points in the game to finish with 1,208 career points, passing Melanie Halker’s mark of 1,204. Hempfling, who will play basketball for Bowling Green State University, also added seven rebounds, seven steals, five rebounds and two blocks in the game. For L-B, junior point guard Savanah Richards eclipsed the 1,000-point mark in the Eagles’ 58-38 win over No. 5 Archbold. Richards, the Blanchard Valley Conference player of the year, scored 18 points while adding team-highs of 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Hempfling averaged 14.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 3.8 steals per game during the regular season, while Richards tallied 16.4 points, 5.7 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 3.8 steals. Other players that have been key contributors include L-B’s 6-foot-3 sophomore post Caitlin Elseser (12.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 blocks), who was a second-team BVC selection, and O-G’s Erin Kaufman (8.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 steals), a second-team WBL pick.
The other semifinal features Amanda-Clearcreek (21-5) and Western Reserve (22-3). Neither team was ranked in any of the weekly AP polls during the season. Amanda-Clearcreek used a suffocating defense to win its first district title since 2009 with a 45-26 win over Marion Pleasant. Courtney Young led the Aces with 19 points. Junior Alyssa Evans had 35 points, including seven 3-pointers, in the Aces’ 56-55 district semifinal win over Cardington-Lincoln. The 1,000-point scorer made two free throws with 13 seconds left to give the Aces the win.
Western Reserve, meanwhile, edged No. 1-seed Margaretta 44-40 in double overtime to reach the regional semifinals for the first time since 2012. Senior guard Andrea Robson scored five of her 14 points in a key stretch in double overtime to lead Western Reserve to the win.
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