If it wasn’t the prettiest victory in Edgewood High School girls basketball history, then so be it.
The Cougars had multiple reasons to win Saturday afternoon and did just that at Ron Kash Court, knocking off visiting Little Miami 33-31 to create a three-way tie for first place in the Southwest Ohio Conference.
Edgewood nearly squandered a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter and was painful to watch at the foul line, but found a way to sink the Panthers.
“That’s the way our season’s been — up and down, up and down,” Cougars coach Greg Brown said. “But gosh, we’re just proud of their effort. We weren’t selfish with the ball and picked each other up when we were down. We played great defense, made key shots when we had to do except for free throws down the stretch, and we did enough to win. That’s what we set out to do.”
Brown said the team dedicated the win to Edgewood eighth-grader Maddie Lohrey and her family.
Melissa Lohrey died Monday at the age of 49 and her funeral was Saturday afternoon, but her daughter chose to play Saturday morning and hit a game-winning shot in the closing seconds of a SWOC tournament contest against Mount Healthy.
“We talked about being selfless and what a selfless act that was to go and play on the day she’s burying her mother,” Brown said. “And then to win the game like that … just unbelievable.”
The Cougars were outright SWOC champions last season and have never won back-to-back championships in any league. Edgewood (11-9 overall, 9-2 SWOC), Little Miami (13-7, 9-2) and Northwest (13-6, 9-2) are deadlocked in the top spot and have one SWOC contest apiece remaining.
On Wednesday, Little Miami will be at home against Ross. Next Saturday, Edgewood and Northwest will host Mount Healthy and Harrison, respectively.
“It’s been a pretty competitive league, so I’m not too surprised,” Panthers coach Matt Tolliver said. “It’s probably going to be a three-way tie, and that’s not what we wanted. We had control of our destiny. All we had to do was win. But sharing’s better than nothing. Now we’ve got to find a way to win Wednesday.”
Little Miami will likely play without senior forward Mariah Clemons in that game after she suffered an ankle injury on the final play of Saturday’s affair.
The Cougars’ Cierra Lipps made a free throw with 5.7 seconds left to make it a 33-31 contest. Clemons drove toward the basket and misfired on a short runner at the other end, getting hurt in the process.
Edgewood was just 7 of 17 at the charity stripe, 3 of 9 in the fourth quarter. Lipps’ conversion ended a string of six straight missed foul shots by the hosts in the last 98 seconds.
“It felt like they were trying to let us back in it by missing their free throws and having a few turnovers,” Tolliver said. “We had a few girls finally make a few 3s, and before you knew it, we had ’em on the ropes. But we’ve struggled all year finishing close games. It was the same thing again today.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well at all. We didn’t seem to have a lot of intensity, and I have no idea why. We picked it up in the fourth quarter, but it was a little too late. It was a typical Edgewood-Little Miami game. We played at their pace. It was too low-scoring, and we’re not good that.”
Freshman forward Callie Hunt paced the Cougars with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Zoe Stephen had 7 points (5 in the fourth period), Emma Allen contributed 6 points and six boards, and Tori Childers added six rebounds.
Hunt conceded the finish was a bit nerve-wracking, but added, “It was really fun. Our defense was great, our plays were good, and everyone did great. It feels amazing.”
“Callie’s really growing. From where she started to where she is now, it’s night and day,” Brown said. “She’s a very smart player. She shoots inside, she shoots outside — her game is unbelievable for a freshman.”
Edgewood has a nonconference home game against Winton Woods on Monday before turning its focus to Mount Healthy and the SWOC championship.
“It’s very difficult for a school our size to go compete in the Division I tournament,” Brown said. “We do it, but as a district, we kind of hang our hat on, ‘Let’s win our league title first. That’s important to us.’ These guys have got it in front of them. They’ve just got to finish the deal.”
Ally Grake (8), Sydney Kuritar (7) and Clemons (6) led the Panthers’ scoring. Clemons grabbed eight boards, while Karrah Wind collected six.
Little Miami 6-6-3-16—31
LITTLE MIAMI (13-7, 9-2 SWOC): Marian Clemons 2 2 6, Karrah Wind 1 0 2, Sydney Kuritar 2 2 7, Kaitlyn Simpkins 2 0 5, Ally Grake 3 0 8, Emily Nugen 1 0 3. Totals: 11-4-31
EDGEWOOD (11-9, 9-2 SWOC): Zoe Stephen 3 0 7, Cierra Lipps 1 3 5, Emma Allen 3 0 6, Callie Hunt 4 4 13, Avery Stahlheber 1 0 2. Totals: 12-7-33
3-pointers: L 5 (Grake 2, Nugen, Kuritar, Simpkins), E 2 (Stephen, Hunt)