Reigning champ Alter played like a team with its eye on a state title…another state title!
Columbus – The D-II state semifinal between Kettering Alter and Eastmoor Academy was close for a while.
But not for long.
After missing 6 of their first 7 shots, the defending state champs found themselves in a 17-all tie with the Warriors late in the second quarter. Alter standout Braxtin Miller capped a 7-0 run with a three-pointer at the buzzer, and the Knights took a 24-17 lead into the locker-room.
Miller hit a three from the left wing to open the third quarter, and when Kara Stephenson drilled a three from the right on the next possession, that 17-all tie was suddenly a 30-17 Alter lead. And the rout was on.
The final was 63-34 and sent the Knights into the state final for the third year in a row. They lost to Millersburg West Holmes in 2014 and won the title over Toledo Rogers last season.
“We are really honored, and humbled to play for a championship three years in a row,” said Alter co-coach Chris Hart. “We had a great week of preparation. We wanted to control their dribble-drive and rebounding, and the kids did a great job of both. We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half, but shot much better in the second.”
“We took a few too many threes in the first half,” added co-coach Kendal Peck. “Our energy wasn’t bad in the first half, but it wasn’t great. We were much better in the second half.”
Miller finished with 19 points and 9 rebounds to lead the Knights, now 27-2. Olivia Gillis, averaging five points on the season, made all 8 of her shots from the floor to finish with 16. Libby Bazelak added 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
On top of her offensive efforts, Miller held Eastmoor’s Amani Burke, an Ohio University recruit averaging 15 points a game, to just 5, including a meaningless three pointer in the fourth quarter.
“It certainly helped our momentum,” Miller said, referring to her back to back threes surrounding the break. “We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted in the first half, and were really focused on putting the game away in the third quarter.”
“Whenever you guard someone that you know is a good player, you want to do your best,” she continued. “I want to be the go-to defender on our team, so I took that as a real challenge.
Gillis, a 5-10 junior, scored 6 points in the first half when the Knights were having trouble putting the ball in the basket.
“When the shots didn’t fall, we started to move the ball more, and I was open. Once a couple of shots fell, it helped my confidence the rest of the game””.
Alter finished at 42% from the floor, 33% from the arc and 59% from the line. Eastmoor shot 28% from the floor, 50% from three and 67% from the line.
“We don’t care who we play Saturday,” concluded Peck. We just want to get healthy and get some rest and get ready to play another 32 minutes on Saturday.”