By TED RADICK
ELIDA — Carey had the right shooter in the right place at the right time.
The Blue Devils trailed Holgate 44-41 with 12.8 seconds left in Saturday’s Division IV regional final at the Elida Fieldhouse. Carey inbounded the ball, got it to Sydney Wentling and she let fly with a potential game-tying 3-point attempt.
The ball hit the rim, bounced high and hit the guy wire supporting the basket. Holgate took possession and closed out the ballgame, and the Tigers earned a trip to the state tournament with a 45-41 victory.
Holgate (23-4) will play Zanesville Rosecrans (26-1) at 3 p.m. Thursday in the state semifinals in Columbus. Carey ends its season at 23-3.
“That was a good, straightaway 3. I felt good about everything we did tonight,” Carey coach Phil Vaughn said. “I wasn’t disappointed with one single play of the game. My girls laid it out there. We have no excuses.”
It was fitting that the game came down to a final shot, as it was nip-and-tuck the whole way. There were seven lead changes, the final one coming with 43 seconds left when Holgate’s Rachel Desgranges hit both ends of a double bonus to put the Tigers up 42-40.
The teams traded single free throws, then Holgate’s Mattie Grim nailed a pair to put the Tigers up 44-41 with 14 seconds left.
Carey got the ball across midcourt, called timeout and set up the final play.
“(Wentling) was option one, then it so happened she was able to get it back,” after the inbound pass, Vaughn said. “She got a good look, straightaway. You couldn’t ask for anything better than that.”
With time left to grab an offensive rebound and perhaps set up another shot, Carey could only watch helplessly as the ball bounced high and Holgate got possession.
“Yeah, it hit the cord,” Vaughn said. “The girls executed the play perfectly. I can’t say a bad thing about it, except it didn’t fall our way.”
Grim put the game out of reach with a free throw with 3.7 seconds left. Holgate hit 4 of 5 free throws in the final minute after shooting 9 of 16 from the line until that point.
“Those are the biggest foul shots that Mattie has ever made,” said Holgate senior post Marissa Myles, who scored nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds despite picking up three fouls in the first half.
Myles, Holgate’s key player, had to sit for a portion of the second and third quarters. Carey led 22-20 when she went out in the second quarter, and led 30-24 at one point in the third but was never quite able to pull away.
“That was big, she’s all-state,” Grim said of Myles’ absence. “The fact that we could stay in it when she was on the bench means that we have a lot of high-caliber players all over the floor. They took one of us away, and we have people that can deliver. That’s the reason we’re going to state.”
Grim scored 12 points for Holgate. Sarah Niese had a game-high 16; Desgranges added seven points.
“I think for my kids, it was a big-time gut check in this game,” Holgate coach Jim Niese said. “Big-time gut check.
“We didn’t panic when we were down at the end. We got ball reversal and got the ball into the post and scored. That’s the sign of a disciplined team. I was proud of my girls for how they reacted when it didn’t look good for large parts of the game.”
Holgate came out on fire at the start as Grim and Sarah Niese, twice, hit 3-pointers in the opening minutes. Carey was solid from the outside, too — Wentling and Hannah Draper hit 3-pointers as Carey took a 12-9 lead. Another Niese trey tied it as the Tigers hit their first four 3-point shots.
Logan Johnson, who led Carey with 12 points, caught fire early in the third as the Blue Devils flipped a 24-22 Holgate halftime lead into a six point Carey lead. Johnson and Ali Rymer worked inside for layups four times in the opening minutes of the third quarter.
“We talked about attacking the basket, that they were going to be out in our face,” Vaughn said. “And, we did. They girls followed the game plan to a ‘T.’ We had our chances.”
Carey took a 36-32 lead into the fourth quarter, but Holgate pulled even after a technical foul on Carey’s Shelby Kin for slamming the ball down. The Blue Devils took a 40-37 lead with 3:22 to go after a Rymer layup, but couldn’t close the game.
“I thought our free-throw shooting wasn’t very good, compared to how we usually shoot it,” Jim Niese said. “That was a big key to us not having a lead at certain times in the game. But at the end, we made some big free throws and that means our girls had that short memory you have to have.
“My girls have worked so hard. A lot of girls have worked hard, but my girls deserved this opportunity. They played really well down the stretch here. Nobody really gave us a chance in this tournament, but that’s why you play the games. Our girls are looking forward to going down (to state) and competing.”
Carey came up just shy of its first trip to state since 2009. Rymer had eight points and seven rebounds; Draper eight points and seven assists. Wentling added seven points and Kin six.
“Like I said, I can’t put my finger on anything and say I was disappointed in it,” Vaughn said. “They made plays, we made plays. They just made one more play than we did.”
Niese 5-7 3-4 16, Grim 4-6 3-4 12, Myles 4-10 1-3 9, Desgranges 1-6 5-8 7, Abel 0-1 1-2 1, Like 0-0 0-0 0, Clady 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS: 14-31 13-21—45.
Johnson 6-9 0-0 12, Rymer 3-9 2-3 8, Draper 3-6 1-2 8, S. Wentling 2-4 2-2 7, Kin 3-7 0-0 6, M. Wentling 0-0 0-0 0, G. Wentling 0-2 0-0 0. TOTALS: 17-37 5-7—41.
Holgate 12 12 8 13 — 45
Carey 14 8 14 5 — 41
3-Point GOALS: Holgate 4-8 (Niese 3-4, Grim 1-1, Myles 0-1, Abel 0-1, Clady 0-1); Carey 2-8 (Draper 1-3, S. Wentling 1-3, G. Wentling 0-2).
rebounds: Carey 21 (Rymer 7, Draper 5); Holgate 19 (Myles 10).
ASSISTS: Carey 15 (Draper 7, S. Wentling 3); Holgate 5 (Grim 2).
STEALS: Holgate 6 (Niese & Myles 2); Carey 5 (Draper 2).
BLOCKS: Carey 3, Holgate 2 (Desgranges 2).
TURNOVERS: Holgate 17, Carey 14.
TOTAL FOULS: Carey 19, Holgate 14.
FOULED OUT: Carey, M. Wentling.