Young Mechanicsburg squad opens with win

Her youthful squad returning just one starter, Dodane worked the sideline with buzzer-to-buzzer intensity, willing her upstart squad to a 62-41 win over host Urbana.

But there was little time to celebrate.

The veteran taskmaster quickly packed up water bottles and sweats, hurried her players into and out of the showers, then onto an awaiting team bus bound for Wapakoneta.

The Indians (10-2) were taking on fellow Ohio Heritage Conference rival West Liberty-Salem (10-2) in a Division VI regional-final football game that all but ensured no one was home in the Burg.

“Number 30 – (kicker) Brandon Purk – is my nephew,” Dodane said. “So, yeah, I think it’s all pretty special.

Mechanicsburg, 23-4 and a regional semifinalist a year ago, trailed 27-26 at halftime and led 36-33 with three minutes left in the third quarter, then caught fire after the unsuspecting Hillclimbers slapped on a welcome full-court press.

“We had first-game jitters and came out slow, but in the second half, we finished our layups,” said Indians junior point guard Jamie Dodane, the coach’s daughter and an honorable-mention All-Ohio player last season who caught fire with a team-high 13 points and nine rebounds.

“We have good plays to run out of a press and we’re more confident. We’re more of a running team. That (move) played into our hands.”

Freshman point guard Hunter Rogan (14 points) and junior forward Braxton Rogan (10), the nieces of former Hillclimber standout Sherri Rogan, kept Urbana within striking distance.

“They come from good blood lines,” Urbana coach Bill Moss said with a grin.

But the pressing Hillclimbers (0-1) wilted down the fourth-quarter stretch, missing a slew of inside shots despite a 29-16 edge in offensive rebounds.

“We got tired in the second half,” assessed Moss, who enters his 27th season and owns a pair of D-II state championships (1992 and ’93). “We didn’t get back on defense and gave up a lot of layups.

“Mechanicsburg’s well-coached. They do a nice job. On our end, we’ve got to put two good halves together.”

Mechanicsburg (1-0) got 11 points from senior Libby Huffman and eight apiece from juniors Paige Loveless, Gina Gano and Mackenzie Merritt.

“It was just awesome at school today,” Jamie Dodane said. “All the football players came up to us and said, ‘Good luck tonight.’ We said, ‘Yeah, good luck to you, too!’

“We’re pumped and excited about the guys and wanted to bring a win over to them at Wapokoneta.”

Jon. Alder 47, Shawnee 44: In the tournament nightcap, Shawnee trailed Jonathan Alder 37-31 after three quarters and closed within one, 45-44, on a baseline jumper from senior forward Liz Walton with 42 seconds left.

Alder hit two of seven foul shots the rest of the way but managed to hang on.

Junior guard Grace Miller and senior forward Kaitlin Gregory led Shawnee with 12 points. Alder freshman forward Alex Madry had a game-high 13.

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