CUYAHOGA FALLS—Beachwood’s girls’ basketball team has a lot to be proud of following its 75-48 loss to Orrville in the Division III Cuyahoga Falls Regional championship game on Saturday.
The Bison, who finished the season 23-3, set a new school record for wins in a season and won the school’s first district championship game. They also finished just one win short of reaching the state Final Four.
“I’m real, real proud of what the kids accomplished, but the biggest thing is that they now understand what it’s going to take if you want to get to Columbus,” said Beachwood first year head coach Mike Coreno. “We take away a great season, a record setting season at the school, but the biggest thing is that now they understand we’ve got some work to do to catch up to an Orrville team.”
Led by a school-record 42 points from University of Akron commitmentHannah Plybon, Orrville, ranked No. 4 in the final AP state poll, answered every Beachwood run as the Bison attempted to come back from an early nine-point deficit.
Plybon, who scored the 2,000th point of her career earlier this season, scored six of Orrville’s first nine points as the Red Riders built a 9-0 lead before Beachwood senior Terrina Robinson’s jumper got the Bison on the board with 4:17 to go in the first quarter.
The Bison rallied to cut Orrville’s lead to 13-11 with 1:55 left in the opening quarter but again the Red Riders responded with a run of their own to finish off the first eight minutes of the game with a 17-11 lead.
Orrville led 35-24 at the half.
“The biggest thing, we were down 9-0 but we were missing shots,” Coreno said. “It wasn’t because we weren’t in synch or anything like that. The ball just didn’t fall for us. (We) missed some layups, missed a few free throws and everything. We just told them to keep playing hard and they kept playing hard. They clawed their way back in. I think we got it down to five or six in that third quarter so that nine point spot didn’t affect us.”
Beachwood junior Mikah Aldridge scored nine of her team-high 20 points in the third quarter. Her scoring outburst, along with some defensive adjustments, helped the Bison make one final run at the Red Riders.
Plybon opened the third with a jumper to increase Orrville’s lead to 37-24 but the Bison reeled off a 9-4 run thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers by Aldridge and junior Aneisha Hardin.
“We got back into it in the third quarter by switching defenses,” Coreno said. “The zone worked in the third quarter but we couldn’t make some shots again. They fell for a while and then they didn’t, so it kind of got away from us again. Once they got the lead we had to foul. They had to shoot 80-percent from the free throw line or better.”
Orrville closed out the final 12 minutes of play hitting 18-of-22 shots from the free throw line.
Beachwood’s first trip to the regional tournament didn’t end well but the Bison, who lose just one senior, learned a lot from their experience in the postseason.
“That’s the first trip for these kids down here. You’re playing against four, what did they start, four seniors and a junior. They’ve been in the district finals before, whatever it was. Those kinds of things we couldn’t overcome tonight,” Coreno said. “I’m so proud of the kids. I told them I actually watched our first game back in November, I watched it on tape the other day on film and then I look at how we played today versus that. We’ve improved day by day by day, which is what we wanted to do.”
Orrville reached the Final Four for the third time in school history but its first since 1993. The Red Riders will play Anna in next weekend’s state semifinals at The Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.