Alter reaches fourth straight state championship game

The Alter girls basketball team overcame its most severe challenge to maintain a date with apparent destiny by dodging unbeaten Ottawa-Glandorf 50-43 in overtime of their high school basketball Division II state semifinal Thursday.

That was a reversal of last year’s D-II state title game when Alter overwhelmed Glandorf, 74-48.

“I remember last year talking about how it was easy,” recalled Libby Bazelak, who led the Knights in Thursday’s game with 20 points and five assists. “I just had to get (Braxtin Miller) the ball and get a bunch of assists. (Thursday) they were guarding Braxtin hard so I knew I had to step up.”

The win propels Alter (27-2) into Saturday’s 10:45 a.m. D-II state championship also at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center against Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown, a former Alter state nemesis that defeated Washington Court House Miami Trace in the other D-II semi.

Miller, who scored 33 points on Glandorf in last year’s D-II state final, had five points on 1 for 7 shooting at the half but heated up in the crucial second half to finish with 15 points.

Alter led by 10 heading into the final quarter but Glandorf, winner of the Western Buckeye League, mounted an unlikely comeback behind a couple of 3-pointers by Lexi Schroeder, who tallied 12 points. That enabled Glandorf to pull even at 41-all at the end of regulation.

Schroeder’s layup gave Glandorf a brief OT lead, but Alter answered with a game-ending 9-0 run, featuring buckets from Miller, Lauren Lush and Olivia Gillis.

“We were willing to give up some looks like that,” said Alter coach Chris Hart, whose Knights defensively locked in on Kadie Hempfling (15 points) and Kylie Whtie (6). (Schroeder) hasn’t hit threes like that all year and we have to believe that’s not going to continue and fortunately it didn’t in the overtime.”

Miller offset an uncharacteristic 4 of 13 shooting with eight rebounds and three assists. Gillis added seven points and Lush six for the Knights.

“None of us really expected their defense to be as tight on me,” Miller said. “It was a lot easier to get to the rim last year.”

Alter will be playing in its fourth straight state title game, a first for any area team. Glandorf (27-1) was making its third straight final four.

Waterford 37, Jackson Center 35: Trailing by 14 to end the third quarter, Cassie Meyer of Jackson Center hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining to tie it at 35-all. Waterford countered with a layup from Hayley Duff with one second remaining in a stunning finish to a D-IV semifinal.

It was a crushing defeat for Jackson Center (23-5), which also lost to Fostoria St. Wendelin in the state semis last season. Meyer led the Tigers with 10 points and four assists. Vanessa Winner added seven points.

Waterford (25-3), the defending D-IV state champ, was led by Alli Kern’s 17 points and 11 rebounds.

• The Divisions I and III semifinals are Friday. All the semifinal winners advance to Saturday’s state championship games.

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