CHAGRIN FALLS–Both teams used an aggressive and playoff-centric approach defensively throughout the game, but Chagrin Falls held off visiting Harvey in a Division II sectional semifinal on Wednesday, 33-30.
“The first time we played (Harvey), they played a tenacious 2-3 zone,” said Chagrin Falls coach Brittany Laseak. “We needed to make sure we came out and started hitting our shots early. We also knew we had to crash the boards, and I was happy to see we were able to get second and third opportunities.”
Defense dominated the first quarter as the host Tigers held a slim 6-4 advantage after the first eight minutes.
The Tigers opened the second quarter on a 9-0 run with each of those points coming on shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
Jenna Santamaria, Lilly Wolf, and Lilly Stukus each scored from long range to push the Chagrin Falls lead to 15-8 at the break.
The Tigers opened the third quarter nearly as hot as they did the second.
Chagrin Falls used a 6-0 run to push its advantage to 12 points before the Red Raiders closed out the quarter with a run of its own to pull to within 26-19 heading into the fourth.
Another Harvey run cut the Chagrin Falls lead to just one point, but Kate Bartlett hit a pair of key free throws in the closing seconds to seal the Tiger win.
“They knocked down big shots,” Laseak said. “Kudos to them; it was like ice in the veins. We knew what we needed to do, it was just a matter of taking a deep breath and doing it.”
Stukus and Peyton Gellin led Chagrin Falls with eight points each. Wolf and Santamaria both contributed with six, and Bartlett added four.
“I think we all take deep breaths because all of us really want to win,” Stukus said. “We just needed to stay calm and keep playing at our best.”
Harvey fell short mainly due to the success Chagrin Falls had in pulling down rebounds to earn second and third chances at the basket.
“Chagrin Falls is a solid shooting team,” said Harvey coach Jerimie Acree. “Any time you give them two or three opportunities to shoot in a possession, it’s tough. The difference in the game was offensive rebounds and the three-ball.”
Zharia McMullen led Harvey with a game-high 10 points. Tamia Alston and Brooklyn Roberts each contributed with six, and Tashira Wise and Lola Thomas both finished with three.
With the win, Chagrin Falls advanced to Saturday’s sectional final at West Geauga, who defeated Youngstown Chaney in the first round.
The Tigers, who improved to 12-11 overall, split with the Wolverines during the regular season.