After defeating Oak Harbor twice in convincing fashion during the regular season, the Port Clinton Redskins needed a clutch performance to defeat the Rockets this time around, beating Oak Harbor, 52-45, to win the Division II Sectional Title.
Led by junior center Tiffany Colston, Port Clinton rallied from a six-point, first-half deficit, outscoring the Rockets, 26-18, in the second half.
Colston, who had a game-high 20 points and nine rebounds, helped the ‘Skins slowly pull away from Oak Harbor in the fourth quarter. After Rocket guard Makayla Carpenter scored on a three-point play with under a minute to play in the third quarter, Port Clinton outscored Oak Harbor, 18-9, from that point forward.
Hannah Weaver and Emily Ashley helped pace the ‘Skins with 11 points apiece and Hope Thorbahn chipped in with eight.
With the win Port Clinton improves to 20-3, setting a school record for single-season victories. Oak Harbor, which had won six straight games, finishes the season at 16-8. The ‘Skins advance to play Rossford at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Lake High School in Millbury in the Div. II District Semifinal.
“Oak Harbor’s been playing very well lately and they’re a very good basketball,” said Port Clinton head coach Toby Bickel said. “I take my hat off to them. They played very well in the first half.
“I didn’t think we played really good defense in the first half considering that we knew what they were going to be doing. Offensively, we weren’t really aggressive. I thought in the second half we played much better defense and we got the ball in around the basket with Hope and Tiffany and Emily. I always say it, I think defense is what turned it around in the second half. Not giving them open threes, that kind of stuff.”
Carpenter and Maria Boers led the Rockets with 11 points apiece and Abbie Gezo and Andrea Cecil each scored 10 points. Boers helped key a second-quarter run as she connected on three consecutive 3-pointers to help give Oak Harbor its biggest lead of the game.
The difference in the second half came to two things — Port Clinton tightening up its defense and the ‘Skins crashing the offensive boards to get second-chance points.
“We didn’t shoot the ball real well tonight,” coach Bickel said. “When you play against a zone, you’ve got to have some patience. We missed some shots against them and crashed the boards and got some offensive rebounds. It’s a little tougher (for a defense) to rebound out of a zone. This is huge for the kids. 19-3 doesn’t really mean anything if you’re 0-1 in the tournament. It’s nice to get this first tournament game out of the way. It’s nice to get a win.”
Oak Harbor will lose four key players from this year’s squad. Boers, Carpenter, Gezo and Erin Bryant, will all be graduating in the spring.
“What I like is there’s a lot of respect (between the teams),” Rockets head coach Tom Kontak said. “When kids and teams and programs go at each other hard with good respect, that is a great part of the high-school environment. That is important. That’s a part of what high-school athletics is all about.To be where we were at the start of the season in November, and to be where we are now in February, it’s unbelievable. I’m disappointed for the four seniors, because these kids have shown tremendous leadership.”