One by one, Alter girls basketball players ascended the ladder to get their piece of the net. “One Shining Moment” played over the loudspeakers, reminding the Knights that March is here and they’re still alive.
Alter dominated the boards with its height advantage and pulled away from Kenton Ridge for good in the final minutes of the third quarter to win 65-48 in a Division II regional final at Springfield High School and advance to the state final four for the first time since 2010.
Second-ranked Alter (28-0) will play Toledo Rogers at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“We’re going to enjoy tonight,” Alter coach Christina Hart said, “and we’ll worry about next week later.”
Emma Bockrath led Alter with 15 points. Maddie Bazelak had 14. Kara Bockrath added 11, and Braxtin Miller scored 12.
Baylee Bennett led the No. 7 Cougars, who finished 26-2, with 16 points.
Alter dominated the early minutes, taking a 15-5 lead with a 9-0 run. Kenton Ridge wasted little time getting back in it and tied it at 15-15 with a layup by Stefanie Davis in the final minute. Alter got back on top at the end of the quarter, 17-15, on a jump shot by Emma Bockrath with seconds to play.
Alter built on the momentum of that last basket in the second quarter and outscored the Cougars 14-7 to take a 31-22 halftime lead.
Emma Bockrath had 10 points at halftime, and Bennett led the Cougars with 12.
In the third quarter, Kenton Ridge cut the deficit to 39-34 and 41-36. Both times Alter moved ahead by seven points on the next possession. Finally, the Knights put the Cougars away by scoring the last nine points of the quarter to take a 50-36 lead.
“I think we wore them down honestly,” Hart said. “They’re not really deep. We’re a lot bigger than they are. We were hoping coming in that would be an advantage.”
Alter advances to the state final four for the fifth time and the first time in four years. The Knights also won regional titles in 2002, 2008, 2009 and 2010. They won their only state championship in 2008 and placed second in 2010.
Kenton Ridge was seeking its first regional championship since 1995. It also played in the final four in 1991.
Toledo Rogers (23-4) beat Bellevue 52-40 on Friday to advance to the final four. On the other side of the bracket, Millersburg West Holmes advanced by beating Zanesville Maysville 45-26. It will play the winner of Beloit West Branch and Akron Saint Vincent-Saint Mary at 3 p.m. Thursday.