Late stoppage helps Pleasant earn district title berth against Aces

GROVE CITY — Addy Tipsword didn’t lead the team in minutes coming off the bench, and she only managed one free throw in the logbook.

Nonetheless, the Pleasant women’s basketball team may have seen their season come to an end without the seniors’ contribution.

As the seconds ticked away and Pleasant took a 38-36 lead, Amanda-Clearcreek had the ball and a base game that seemed to be working.

“We had a pick-and-roll with Grace (Davis) and she had a phenomenal night,” Aces coach Tim Leist said of the tiebreaker. “It was a great call after the timeout. We had an opportunity and we just didn’t convert. These are things that happen.”

He didn’t convert due to the heady defensive effort of Tipsword, who slipped and challenged the block shot by the Aces without being called for a foul. She then grabbed the rebound and held on as the Amanda-Clearcreek players forced a ball jump.

Addy Tipsword of Pleasant shoots a free throw against Amanda-Clearcreek in a Division III women's basketball district semifinal game Tuesday night at Central Crossing.

But with Pleasant taking possession of the alternate arrow and the Aces being forced to foul senior free throw shooter Kyla Columber with 4.8 seconds left, the Spartans held on for a victory in the semi-finals of the district of Division III women’s basketball 40-36 Tuesday night at Central Crossing.

“I knew I just had to stand up and not let her score,” Tipsword said. “I was like, ‘Stay straight’, because it could be the win or the lose of the match.”

For the No. 7 seeded Cinderella Spartans in the Central District in D-III, it was another win over a higher-seeded side. Pleasant beat No. 4 North Union 55-43 on Saturday night to claim the section crown, then outscored the No. 6 aces by four points on Tuesday.

“We work really hard. We don’t look at how well they play or how many teams they’ve won against. We just look at what we can do to beat them,” Tipsword said.

Next up for Pleasant (16-8) is a date with No. 10 Johnstown (14-8) Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Alumni Hall in Ohio Domincan for a district championship and regional spot in Springfield. The Johnnies, a Cinderella story in their own right, upset the No. 3 seed and ranked Cardington State 42-41 with a fourth-quarter comeback from a double-digit deficit.

For Tipsword, who missed much of the season as an aid station player, she was happy to be there for her teammates.

“I just feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time. I want to do what I can for my team,” she said. “It means a lot.”

Pleasant coach Keriann Pratt agreed and praised Tipsword for never giving up.

Amanda-Clearcreek coach Tim Leist talks to his team before the start of the fourth quarter against Pleasant in a Division III women's basketball district semifinal game Tuesday night at Central Crossing .

“Addy started late this season, but she came in every day to practice and worked hard,” Pratt said. “She stayed focused the whole time, and when we needed her, she stepped in for us. She gave us the physique we needed tonight.”

Amanda-Clearcreek (16-8) opened the game with a 7-0 run, but Pleasant responded with a 13-0 run and eventually led 16-9 after the first quarter.

The Spartans built the nine-point lead after a 3-pointer from Emerson Williams midway through the second quarter, but the Aces closed out the half with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 22.

The third quarter went back and forth with Pleasant leading 33-31 heading into the fourth. From there, AC never led, but tied once and had chances to tie again or even take the lead in the final six minutes.

“Our girls played their ass off and had a chance to win, but too many turnovers,” Leist said. “We had a fourth quarter streak where we turned it around three or four times, and you can’t do that against a good team. Once they get in the lead, they become almost unbeatable because they shoot their free throws so well and hold the ball.

Pleasant's Emerson Williams shoots a 3-pointer against Amanda-Clearcreek in a Division III women's basketball district semifinal game Tuesday night at Central Crossing.

“We watched that against North Union last weekend, and I said we couldn’t fall behind and we did.”

Williams led the Spartans with 14 points, nailing three 3-pointers in the first half to stabilize his team. Columber scored 10 of his 13 points in the second half and 4 of 5 from the foul line. No one else from Pleasant finished with more than five points.

“When Kyla struggles offensively, Emerson steps in and gives us another look,” Pratt said. “Avah (Steele) steps in. Along with Lexi (Olt) another outstanding defensive play from her. She had a bit of foul trouble. Maddie (Simmons) put a few big buckets on us and took up space in the post. . Whitney (Waddell) just gives us a lot of length, so does Avah.”

Davis scored 22 points and no one else had more than five for the Aces.

“I was just proud of their efforts,” he said of his team. “We had watched a lot of films on Pleasant and we spotted them last Saturday. We knew it was going to be a tough game.

“Hats off to them and good luck on Friday for the district title. They’re a great team.”

Pratt said his unlikely Spartans will be watching a movie about the Johnnies to see what they’re talking about over the next few days, but there won’t be much change in Pleasant’s approach.

“We are who we are and we will prepare as best we can,” she said. “Friday we hope to give our fans something to cheer about. I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a good game.

“It’s a Cinderella story, we’re going this far. I bet nobody had us on their list, but these girls didn’t give up in them. They won’t give up. They fight, fight and are still fighting. I couldn’t’ be more proud of them.”

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Amanda-Clearcreek's Addy Pugh lines up a base jump shot against Pleasant during a Division III women's basketball district semifinal game Tuesday night at Central Crossing.
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