Patience, not points, leads to Hoover’s come-back win against Lake in a Division I district final.
On a night when points were at a premium, patience had to be plentiful. That’s the only way Hoover would find both balance and a way to win a girls Division I district championship Saturday night against Lake High School.
Despite never panicking, Hoover senior captain Kelsey Peare felt her chest flutter as Lake junior Miranda
Dietz stared down a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a second left. Dietz’s open shot, rattled in, then out of the basket and off the backboard.
“I said to myself, ‘We need to grab that rebound and get the win,’” Peare said after Hoover beat Lake 39-36. “I was very nervous watching it.”
It was Lake’s second open look beyond the arc late in the game. Neither fell.
The Blue Streaks, playing in their first district final in school history, nearly pulled it off. They set a deliberate, controlled tempo for four quarters and used a zone defense to frustrate Hoover.
None of the Vikings big three — Peare, Julie Worley or Kaylee Stroemple — scored in double figures. They each finished with nine points to lead the Vikings.
All 27 of those points were earned the hard way.
“Honestly, if you’d have told me none of them score (10 points or more), I’d have thought we’d lose,” Hoover first-year head coach Abbey Allerding said.
McKenna Stephens scored 14 points for Lake and Baylen Dyrlund added 10.
Both teams struggled to hit shots early, with Hoover taking an 8-6 lead after one.
The Vikings caught all iron on three straight 3-point shots and the Blue Streaks turned those into transition buckets. Stephens, Bree Libby and Dyrlund all got buckets and Lake took a 14-10 lead in the middle of the second quarter.
Kaitlyn Runner hit Hoover’s only 3 of the first half (1 of 7) to get the Vikings to within 18-17 at halftime.
Lake had momentum — and the lead, 30-25 — after three quarters.
“They want to get up and down the floor and score in the 60s or 70s,” Lake head coach Henry Cobb said. “Our kids did everything they needed to do to win except score four more points.”
But Hoover never rushed anything. The Vikings almost seemed to settle into Lake’s deliberate pace and remained patient.
Peare had three steals during a key stretch in the middle of the fourth.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Allerding said, “Kelsey Peare played like an all-star. She took some huge shots and made them at important times and defensively she came up with big plays in big moments.”
Those turnovers led to baskets on the other end. Kelsey Lensman, who was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, drilled one from the key to get the Vikings to within 32-31 with 5:04 left.
Page 2 of 2 - On the next possession, Cobb sensed his offense was out of sorts and momentum was shifting. He tried to call a timeout.
It fell on deaf ears. Lake threw the ball away. Then the Streaks missed a pair of free throws that would have tied the game.
Hoover got comfortable.
“Our kids never stopped believing,” said Allerding, whose team will play Reynoldsburg on Tuesday at 6:15 at Otterbein University. “They never got their heads down.”
Lake got within a point a couple times down the stretch, but Hoover answered.
“It’s bitter-sweet,” Cobb said. “It’s bitter because we came up a couple points short of doing something that was maybe impossible and it’s bitter because four seniors played their last games. It’s sweet because the kids accomplished so much and exceeded the expectations of the school and community and the head coach beyond anything anyone thought possible.”
Hoover won a district title for the first time since 2007. They waited this long to get back, but getting past a deliberate four-quarter game seemed just as long.
“We kept our heads in the game,” Peare said. “Anything can happen at any given moment, especially in the fourth quarter. I think we wanted it more in the fourth quarter. I’m so proud of us for keeping at it and never giving up.”