Hindered by their 8-for-40 shooting stat line from the field after three quarters, Waynesville trailed by 13 points at one point before the final 10 minutes of its state semifinals clash with Doylestown Chippewa started.
That is when the Spartans mounted a furious comeback that was capped off by Marcella Sizer’s offensive rebound and stickback at the buzzer in overtime, which sent the Waynesville girls to the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III state championship game at the Schottenstein Center at 10:45 a.m. on Saturday.
Now 27-0 and headed to their first state championship game in school history, Waynesville (27-0) meets undefeated defending state champion Columbus Africentric. Ranked No. 4 in the MaxPreps National Rankings, the Nubians dispatched Hiland 61-48 in the first semifinal. University of Tennessee recruit Jordan Horston is Columbus Africentric’s top player.
Chippewa saw its 22-game win streak snapped and ended the season at 25-2.
Late in the third quarter, it did not appear that Waynesville would get the chance to knock off the Nubians in the state championship game. As a team, they were cold from the field, and even the Spartans all-time leading scorer, Rachel Murray, could not connect. She finished 1-for-11 from the floor and was limited to six points.
Even with those numbers, Murray delivered a key basket when she completed an old-fashioned three-point play to even the score with 2:33 left in regulation. Overall, the Spartans collected 16 points in the fourth quarter, taking their first lead on Kenzie Purkey’s free throw with 1:08 remaining.
Chippewa’s Celina Kontz tied the game at 37-37 with 20 seconds left when she sank a pair of free throws. Waynesville missed three shots in the closing seconds, sending the game to overtime.
Deadlocked at 39-39 with 40 seconds remaining, Lynzie Hartshorn’s steal gave the Spartans possession.
Murray misfired off a runner in the paint. That is when Sizer grabbed the rebound with five seconds left, missed a shot, snared her own miss and scored as the buzzer sounded.
Waynesville shot just 16-of-60 for the game and led for only 54 seconds. Sizer is the school’s all-time leader in rebounds and steals, but it is her buzzer-beating stickback that propelled the Spartans to its grandest stage.