COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Findlay Liberty-Benton coach Nate Irwin
knew his undersized squad couldn't out muscle Middletown Madison so
the strategy was to push the pace.
It worked as the Eagles limited Madison to four goals in 21
attempts in the second half while outscoring them by 18 points to
pull away for a 66-44 win and its first state title in Division III
"We had to run the floor and hopefully wear them down and
hopefully affect their shooting," Irwin said.
The Eagles (27-0) broke a tight game by outscoring the Mohawks
15-6 in the third quarter for a 53-40 advantage that was capped by
a layup from Amanda Hyde with five seconds left.
Hyde, an Associated Press first team All-Ohio selection, had 13
of her 23 points in the first half in the first meeting of unbeaten
teams in a final since Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame beat Dayton
Chaminade-Julienne in the 2004 Division championship.
Caite Craft scored 11 in the second half to increase the Eagles'
(27-0) four-point halftime lead, 38-34. She finished with 19 and
Amber Peterson added 13 points.
Brittany Shields had 13 points and Ally Malott 10 for Madison
Madison had gradually cut a 10-point second quarter deficit and
got to within 40-38 three minutes into the third but Peterson
nailed a three-pointer from the left corner, Hyde hit a jumper and
Craft made two free throws and a layup to provide the Eagles a
"Everyone realized if we wanted to win we had to keep our
defense up," Peterson said.
The Eagles are known for their long-range shooting - they made
six three-pointers to give them 235 for the season, second-most in
Ohio girls history to the 241 by Lima Bath in 2004-05 - but Madison
coach John Rossi was impressed by their defense.
"Going 4 for 21; that's tough to win any ballgame against a
great team like that," he said.
Madison, in its first state appearance, had trouble early, too.
It went five minutes without a point while Liberty-Benton ran off
15 points in row to take a 32-19 lead. The Eagles were up 34-24
when Lindsay Hopkins drove the floor to end Madisons scoreless
streak. Adrianne Lehman followed with a three-pointer and later a
free throw to make it 34-30 with two minutes left in the first
"We knew they weren't scared of us," Hyde said. "We knew we
weren't scared of them."