In the opener, top seed Elyria Catholic coasted to a 65-24 win over Oberlin, while Rootstown jumped out to an early 16-point lead in the second game and cruised past Wellington 56-29.
The Panthers (20-4) and the No. 5 seed Rovers will meet Tuesday with a trip to the district finals on the line.
Elyria Catholic senior Karissa McGrath scored a game-high 20 points and may have single-handedly outscored the Phoenix had she not sat out the fourth quarter because the game was out of hand
“I just wanted to come out hard tonight,” said McGrath, who also had 15 rebounds. “Even though we knew we were favorites, we needed to come out and play the best game that we could.
“We know it’s going to get tougher every game from here on out, so we just need to prepare ourselves for that.”
Oberlin (1-21), with only one senior on its roster, got 19 points from sophomore Judith Lesesne. However, junior Kymaia Gadsden was the only other Oberlin player to score, finishing with five points, including a 3-pointer from NBA range that she released just before the final buzzer.
The Panthers also got 12 points from Riley Schill and 11 from Brittney McNamara.
Elyria Catholic’s offense seemed out of sync early, but the scoring kicked in after the first quarter as the Panthers outscored the Phoenix 21-7 to take a 24-point halftime lead.
“We didn’t want to get into the press early,” said EC coach Eric Rothgery. “We wanted to work on some things and keep it a game. The girls are used to coming out and pressing though. Sometimes you outcoach yourself. We should come out and play the same no matter who we play. You live and learn.”
After pounding the ball in the paint in its win over Columbia, Rootstown came out firing from long range, much to the surprise of Wellington coach Chris Reutepohler.
“We scouted them twice and both times they didn’t even look to shoot the three, so we decided we were going to pack it in and make them beat us from the outside,” he said. “Then they hit three in a row and we knew we had to change our strategy and go back to man.”
Unfortunately for the Dukes (7-16), they were never able to recover from the early onslaught.
Rootstown (11-13) got three 3-pointers in the first quarter from junior Madison Hartung.
“Coach told to go out there and play hard,” said Hartung, who led all scorers with 13 points. “I was trying to get the ball into Casey (Miracle) but my teammates kept getting me open looks so I was able to take good shots.”
The Rovers’ two leading scorers — Miracle and Tori Goodpaster — picked up their third fouls in the second quarter but that didn’t stop their offense.
“We executed well tonight and made big plays,” Rootstown coach Jay Airhart said.
Kelsey Werdebaugh led Wellington with seven points.
“We turned the ball over too many times, we didn’t make a lot of shots, we didn’t make our free throws, Reutepohler said. “They kept making shots and we didn’t. That’s about as simple as basketball gets right there.”
EC 65, Oberlin 24
OBERLIN (24): Judith Lesesne 9-0-19, Kymaia Gadsen 2-0-5, Aungie Owens 0-0-0, Anna Cameron 0-0-0, Gwen Micell 0-0-0, Ryanne Fury 0-0-0. Totals 11-0-24.
ELYRIA CATHOLIC (65): Julia Scapelli 4-0-8, Josie Carandang 1-0-2, Brittney McNamara 5-0-11, Brooke Nedrich 1-0-2, Karissa McGrath 7-6-20, Riley Schill 6-0-12, Margot Novak 0-1-1, Becky Horvath 2-4-8, Erin Herschelman 0-1-1. Totals 26-12-65.
Oberlin 4 7 6 7 — 24
Elyria Catholic 13 21 14 17 — 67
Three-point goals: Elyria Catholic (McNamara), Oberlin (Lesesne, Gadsen); Field goals: Oberlin 11-41 (27 percent), Elyria Catholic 26-63 (41 percent); Free throws: Oberlin 0-1 (0 percent), Elyria Catholic 12-19 (63 percent); Rebounds: Oberlin 33, Elyria Catholic 45; Turnovers: Oberlin 27, Elyria Catholic 8; Total fouls: Oberlin13, Elyria Catholic 9.
Rootstown 53, Wellington 29
WELLINGTON (29): Erin Reisinger 1-1-4, Leah Snyder 0-3-3, Kelsey Werdebaugh 3-0-7, Raven Howard 2-2-6, Grace Dooley 1-0-3, Allison Rangel 3-0-6. Totals 10-16-29.
ROOTSTOWN (56): Jalynn Myers 3-1-7, Tori Goodpaster 2-2-6, Madison Hartung 5-0-13, Brandi Barkhurst 3-0-7, Alex Cramer 2-0-5, Cayannne Breznak 3-5-11, Casey Miracle 3-1-7. Totals 21-9-56.
Wellington 9 5 5 10 — 29
Rootstown 21 7 17 11 — 56
Three-point goals: Wellington (Reisinger, Werdebaugh, Dooley), Rootstown (Hartung 3, Barkhurst, Cramer); Field goals: Wellington 10-59 (17 percent), Rootstown 21-46 (46 percent); Free throws: Wellington 6-16 (38 percent), Rootstown 9-16 (56 percent); Rebounds: Wellington 46, Rootstown 33; Turnovers: Wellington 18, Rootstown 15; Total fouls: Wellington 15, Rootstown 16.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or email@example.com.