POWELL — Through three quarters Saturday, Marion Pleasant was cruising right along, looking like a 24th straight victory and a district championship were in the bags. But, Utica wasn’t in the mood to be swept under the rug, mounting a furious fourth-quarter comeback to put a scare into the undefeated Spartans.
But, in the end it wasn’t enough as Pleasant sank 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute to pull out the 60-52 victory in the Division III District finals at Olentangy Liberty High School.
“We played as hard as we could and gave it everything we could. We battled to the end, which is all we can ask for,” said Utica coach Michelle Snow.
Pleasant (24-0) led by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter, but Utica picked up the tempo and closed the gap to 54-50 with 1:11 left in the game. Senior Tricia Harvey scored 10 of her team-high 20 points in that stretch as the Redskins (20-4) put a scare into the Spartans.
Pleasant was able to put the game away by hitting 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute to secure the victory.
“I thought we held our composure real well,” said Pleasant coach Mike Ward. “Utica is a good team. They have excellent athletes and good players. They did not quit. Our hats are off to Utica. If they did not have the character or such good coaching, they could have folded.”
“We knew it would take a group effort to beat them and that’s exactly what we did,” Snow said. “We had them on the ropes.”
Pleasant had opened the game on fire, scoring the first six points and rolling to a 17-4 lead at the end of one quarter. The lead remained between eight and 13 points until the Spartans were able to push it to 18 late in the third quarter. It remained at 19 until Utica scored seven straight points to being its furious comeback.
Utica was able to stay in the game thanks to its defense, as the Redskins forced 27 Pleasant turnovers on the night. But, shooting proved to be the downfall, as they hit on just 21-of-65 shots in the game, including just 2-of-18 from behind the three-point line.
Harvey led the Redskins with 20 points. Abbie Corbett added 15 points, while Kandis Walker had 10 points and six assists. Tamra Londot pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
Pleasant was led by Ashley Andrews, who had 18 points. Julie Rice added 12 points and 11 rebounds, while Darien Hempy had 10 points.