Waynesville girls reach state championship game on OT buzzer beater

Marcella Sizer is Waynesville’s girls basketball career leader in rebounds and steals. She’s also the owner of the program’s most memorable shot.

Grabbing on offensive rebound and sinking the ensuing putback at the buzzer, Sizer’s heroics lifted the Spartans to a 41-39 overtime win over Doylestown Chippewa in Thursday’s Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III girls basketball state semifinal at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

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The Spartans led a total of 54 seconds.

Waynesville (27-0) faces fellow undefeated freight train and defending state champion Columbus Africentric (27-0) in the state final (10:45 a.m. Saturday). The Nubians, No. 4 in the country in the MaxPreps National Rankings, beat Hiland 61-48 in the first semifinal. Africentric is led by Tennessee recruit Jordan Horston.

Waynesville and Africentric are the only unbeaten schools left in any division.

“We never quit” Waynesville head coach Tim Gabbard said. “We’re 27-0 for a reason.”

Said Sizer: “I had to shoot it. I had to make it. I didn’t know how much time was left.”

Chippewa, which had a 22-game win streak snapped, finishes 25-2.

“We were both battling for the rebound and (Sizer) was able to get it and get the shot off,” Chippewa head coach Denny Schrock said. “I saw it go through and I just told my team to shake hands. There wasn’t anything we could’ve done about that play.”

Facing its largest deficit of the season down 32-19 late in the third quarter, Waynesville mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback.

Shooting a miserable 20-percent (8-0f-40) for the first three quarters, the Spartans scored 16 fourth-quarter points and pulled even on Rachel Murray’s 3-point play with 2:33 left. Kenzie Purkey’s free throw with 1:08 left gave the Spartans their first lead.

Two free throws by Chippewa’s Celina Kontz tied the game 37-37 with 20 seconds to play and the Chipps survived three Waynesville misses in the final seconds.

In the overtime the period, Lynzie Hartshorn’s steal with 40 seconds left gave the Spartans the last possession.

Running clock, Murray drove the lane with 10 seconds left and took an open runner that missed left. Sizer grabbed the rebound and made history.

Murray, the Spartans all-time leading scorer, shot 1-of-11 from the floor and netted six points. Sizer had 13 points, 16 rebounds and seven steals, while Leah Butterbaugh added 10 points. Hartshorn had eight points and six steals.

Waynesville shot 16-of-60 for the game and grabbed 23 offensive rebounds.

“We’ll play the best we can play Saturday and whatever happens happens,” said Gabbard, who picked up career win No. 576. “We’re playing the fourth ranked team in the country and they are in Division III. That possess some problems. But we’ll be ready.”

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