MEDINA — With a game and name like Taylor Leatherman, if you don’t bring it strong, you’re going to be on the wrong side of the block.
Hannah Schill found that out the hard way when she drove the hole with eight seconds left and was swatted away on the biggest play of a Medina Division I District semifinal.
The third-seeded Wadsworth girls basketball pulled off the biggest upset of the district Monday when it knocked out undefeated second seed Archbishop Hoban 36-33.
“The bottom line is Taylor is a three-year junior, varsity starter,” Grizzlies coach Andrew Booth said. “She’s very, very talented. We’ve been trying for three years to get her to come out of her shell. For her to rise to the occasion when we needed her the most, to make that play without fouling, was incredible.”
Leatherman also had the wherewithal to keep the ball inbounds.
Schill drove the left side and put the ball up with her left hand, but the 5-foot-10 Leatherman got her right hand up and swatted it to teammate E’Anna Won, who split a pair of free throws.
The Knights’ Abby Griffith got a shot up at the buzzer, but it had no chance
“At first I thought I was kind of screwed, because I knew she had beaten me for a second,” Leatherman said. “Then I caught up and timed it perfectly to get that block, which normally Coach Booth yells at us for trying to do that, but I knew I had it, so I went for it.
“I was immediately excited (when Won got the rebound), because I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left. I knew we were winning this game because we were the underdogs — and that’s what we’ve been this whole tournament — going against an undefeated team. It was a great opportunity.”
It wasn’t just Leatherman bringing it on the defensive end, as the Grizzlies stymied the Knights (23-1) in a second half for the ages.
While Akron commit Lonasia Brewer (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Megan Hutson (7, 12) were tough, no one else had more than five points for Hoban.
Still, the Knights had a 31-22 lead with 38 seconds left in the third quarter, but watched Wadsworth close the game on a 14-2 run. If not for two free throws by Brewer with 1:06 left, the Grizzlies would have pitched a fourth-quarter shutout.
“The one thing I love about their team so much is they play with a chip on their shoulder all the time,” said Hoban coach Scott Callaghan, who coached the Grizzlies from 2000-05. “That’s something that we preach, but we have to keep growing as a program in that way.”
Wadsworth was led in scoring by Kylee Batey (11 points), Regan Simpson (7) and Won (6), but what the Grizzlies did when they didn’t have the ball got things moving.
Simpson gave Wadsworth the lead for good with 48.6 seconds left in the third quarter on a pass from Won (6 assists), and the rest was grit and determination.
Hoban shot 0-for-7 in the fourth quarter and committed eight turnovers. The Knights had 23 overall.
“We’re always going to come out like fire,” Batey said.
The Grizzlies will need an inferno when they play top-seeded Canton McKinley (23-1) on Thursday at 7 p.m., but it’s not a position the squad hasn’t been in before.
The Bulldogs beat fifth-seeded Brunswick 65-39 behind reigning Ms. Basketball’s Kierstan Bell’s 23 points to set up the rematch of last season’s district final. That one went the Grizzlies’ way in a 51-46 upset that catapulted Wadsworth to the state semifinals.
“We have to keep the energy up,” Won said. “Our theme this year has been attitude. We say Grizzly attitude. We have to persevere and work 110 percent.”
The game was Callaghan’s first against his former team despite being in his eighth season at Hoban. He is still an English teacher at Wadsworth.
“It was terrible,” Callaghan said. “And I’m not saying that because I don’t want to lose. I’m saying that because (Wadsworth assistant) Mark Postak and I have been best of friends for 40-some years.
“Every day my class is 15 feet from Andy Booth’s fourth period. I’m teaching half those kids during the day. We could have played 900 other schools and I would have felt all right, but I don’t want to coach against them because had we won, I would have felt terrible for them.”
Wadsworth 36, Archbishop Hoban 33
Medina Division I District Semifinal
WADSWORTH 7 10 7 12 — 36
HOBAN 6 10 15 2 — 33
Wadsworth — Maria Busson 0-2-2, Kylee Batey 4-2-11, Stephanie Andrews 2-0-4, Taylor Leatherman 1-2-4, Regan Simpson 3-1-7, Allison Elchlinger 1-0-2, E’Anna Won 2-2-6, Hayden Hassinger 0-0-0, Emily Rhodes 0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-9-36.
Hoban — Jackie Roberts 2-0-5, Megan Hutson 3-1-7, Lonasia Brewer 3-3-9, Taylor Flannery 0-0-0, TaNajya Gooden-Wesley 1-0-2, Hannah Schill 2-0-5, Abby Griffith 1-0-3, CaraMia Bentley 1-0-2, Alana Christian 0-0-0. TOTALS: 13-4-33.
3-point goals — Elchlinger, Griffith. Rebounds — Wadsworth 15 (Busson, Won 5), Hoban 28 (Hutson 12). Assists — Wadsworth 9 (Won 6), Hoban 5 (Bentley 5). Records — Wadsworth (19-5), Hoban (23-1).