HILLIARD — Soon, The Ohio State University women’s basketball team will add Pickerington Central’s 6-foot-2 post player Emilee Harmon to its already talented roster. Unfortunately, for the Mount Vernon Yellow Jackets, it didn’t happen soon enough.
The Tigers’ star senior, using her superior height and athleticism, led her team to a 66-41 defeat of Mount Vernon in their Division I Central District sectional final at Hilliard Davidson High School on Wednesday night.
“She’s an athlete; that’s why she’s going to Ohio State,” Mount Vernon coach Doug Savage said. “Really, it was on the boards that she really hurt us with several putbacks and keeping the ball alive.”
The Yellow Jackets (11-11) tried to keep a body on Harmon (7-of-12, 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists), whose Tigers grabbed a 16-8 advantage in the opening quarter. Harmon, however, was far from their only problem. Central’s freshman guards Taylor Jones and Shelby Porter both had seven points, post player Brianna Johnson pulled down four of the Tigers’ 24 rebounds while Samantha Griffith, Jasmine Baker and Jasmine Henshaw chipped in six apiece.
“I thought, in the first half, we did a pretty good job on (Harmon), but the other kids for them stepped up and knocked down big shots in the first half,” said Savage. “That’s what they’re going to have to do. That’s why they’re a good team. They’ve got a supporting cast. It’s not just Harmon.”
Freshman wing Macie Malone was one of the bright spots for the Jackets. Her 10 points, including a 3-pointer, led the Jackets. Nikki DiGuilio had seven for the Jackets, teammate Caroline Caldwell had six and Jhazmyn Anderson added five.
If there was one fault in the Tigers’ game all evening, it was that they missed a fair number of shots (25-of-54). That, however, was more than offset by the offensive rebounding of the entire team.
“Oh yeah, they killed us on the offensive boards,” said Savage. “They hit some quick jumpers. We didn’t do a good job of boxing out. They’re big; they crash the boards well; they are quick jumpers. There are three or four of them battling for it and they’re battling almost all the time.”
That meant that the Tigers were getting two and three chances to score on every possession.
“That is partly our fault,” explained Savage. “It was also partly God-given ability, God-given size and that type of thing. Not only are they big, but they are also athletic at the same time.”
When Central wasn’t snagging rebounds, it was stealing the ball away, led by Katie Stevens, who had three of her team’s 12 total.
“They can jump to the sides and they have some reach to them,” said Savage.
With their season ended, the other bad news for Mount Vernon is that they will have to say goodbye to a core group of seniors who have been with the program for a long time. Anderson, Caldwell, Paige Wagner and Christine Herald have played their final basketball game for the Jackets.
“I look back to seventh and eighth grade when there were 15 of them and, now, there’s only four of them left. That tells me a lot about their character,” said Savage. “Anytime you can stick it out in sports like that and make it all the way through your senior year, I think that reveals you’re character. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of practices and hard work. There’s a lot of summer ball they played but they stayed through thick and thin.”
Pickerington Central advances to the district semifinal, where they will face Brookhaven on Monday night. Brookhaven was a 44-30 winner over Logan on Wednesday night.