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Olmsted Falls returning to state semifinals with win over Massillon Jackson

Olmsted Falls was the Division I state runner-up a season ago

SANDUSKY, Ohio - The trip to Dayton this time of year is so nice that the Olmsted Falls girls basketball team has decided to make it twice.

The Bulldogs are headed back to Dayton - and the OHSAA Division I state semifinals - for the second year in a row and the second time in program history with a 61-34 win over Massillon Jackson on Saturday afternoon at Sandusky High School in the regional final.

"I said I would hope to get back just because I enjoyed the tournament so much," Olmsted Falls head coach Jordan Eaton said. "We just really enjoyed being there in the atmosphere of being at the UD arena and everything."

Booking the trip to Dayton took some work, as Olmsted Falls led just 15-10 after the first quarter. But the Bulldogs opened the second quarter on a 10-3 run and then ended the quarter with a 3-pointer from Emily Scina to take a 28-15 lead into the half. Her shot came off an offensive rebound that was grabbed and tossed out to her.

"I think that it's huge for all of us to just get as many shots as possible," Scina said. "The more shots you can get up, the more offensive rebounds we can get and all those things give our team momentum." 

Olmsted Falls wasn't satisfied, however, as they had watched from the stands on Wednesday night as Jackson erased a 10-point halftime lead and defeated Anthony Wayne in the regional semifinal.

"We said at halftime remember the Wednesday night game," Eaton said. "It was very simple, this game's not over. They are very capable, they are well-coached, they have great guards and they play together. I just thought we defended them really well and tried to get them out of their comfort zone a little."

Olmsted Falls did just that, scoring 10 of the first 14 points after the half, including three 3-pointers by Jessica Wolanin to give Olmsted Falls a 38-19 lead.

"(Jessica) is just a kid who works at it," Eaton said. "It's always great to see it pay off when you know how much work a kid puts in."

Olmsted Falls players hoist the Division I regional championship trophy after defeating Massillon Jackson on March 9, 2024.

Olmsted Falls players hoist the Division I regional championship trophy after defeating Massillon Jackson on March 9, 2024.

Jackson responded with back-to-back 3-pointers by Ashley Lahmers and Meg Campbell to cut the lead back down to 13. Campbell led the Polar Bears with 13 points and Lahmers had 10.

But Olmsted Falls responded with a 20-2 run of its own to put the game away. The first 14 points of the run were scored by Jesse Simon and Maddie Cerovac, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the stretch.

For the game, Cerovac hit three triples and led the Bulldogs with 18 points, while Wolanin knocked down five 3-pointers for her 15 points and Simon added 10. Olmsted Falls' leading scorer on the season, Danielle Cameron, scored five points while drawing the attention Lahmers, who is Jackson's best defender.

"I know that people want to like take Danielle out of the game, I just haven't seen that be a successful strategy for other teams yet," Eaton said. "I get it, I would probably do the same thing but we play 10 people and those people can contribute and they know they're supposed to contribute and the great thing is that Danielle doesn't force the issue. And if you face-guard her, it leaves a lot of space open and now it's a 4-on-4 game and 4-on-4 is difficult to guard. There's lot of space to operate. So sometimes it works out in our favor." 

And now it is off to Dayton, where the Bulldogs will face Medina or Magnificat on Friday, March 15 at 6:00 pm at the University of Dayton Arena. After defeating Pickerington Central in the semifinals and falling to Princeton in the state championship game, the Olmsted Falls players are looking forward to making the trip back to Southwest Ohio.

"I'm so excited," Cerovac said. "It's not something that everybody gets to experience and to be able to experience something like that twice is huge."

-- Ryan Isley | | @sbliveoh