Basketball is a game of runs, and Thursday was no different for the Oak Harbor girls basketball team.
The Rockets jumped out to a big early lead, then held off a furious Bucyrus rally to win 54-48 in a Division III district semifinal at Seneca East High School.
With the win, Oak Harbor (20-4) will face Bucyrus Wynford (18-6) at 3 p.m. Saturday back at Seneca East for a spot in the regional semifinals.
Two key starters — Emma Barney and Andrea Cecil — fouled out in the fourth quarter during the Bucyrus comeback.
“Pure guts and toughness,” Oak Harbor coach Tom Kontak said of the win. “Our kids learned two lessons today. No. 1, you never know when you're name is going to be called. And second, no mater who is in the game, you must be strong with the ball.”
Oak Harbor jumped out to an early 7-0 lead, starting with an old-fashioned three-point play by Cecil, followed by a layup and two free throws by Maddy Rathbun.
The Rockets closed the quarter on a 6-0 run with layups by Alli Kuhn, Emma Barney, and Amanda Hetrick to take a commanding 13-3 lead.
The second quarter went back-and-forth, with the Rockets still in control at 31-19 at the half.
Full court pressure, knocking down free throws and forcing nine turnovers led to the strong first half by the Rockets. They were 7-of-10 at the free-throw line in the eight minutes.
In the third quarter, the lead ballooned to 21 for the Rockets, but when leading scorer Cecil picked up her fourth foul with 2:24 left in the quarter, it became a completely different game.
Oak Harbor, after turning the ball over only three times in the first half, turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter alone.
The Rockets committed 13 turnovers total in the second half, almost all of them coming with Cecil on the bench. In the process, Bucyrus went on a 10-2 run led by Macey Sheerer, who scored all 10 points for Bucyrus with two layups and two three-point plays, cutting the lead to 13 entering the fourth quarter.
Sheerer ended the game with 25 points for Bucyrus, which included 20 in the second half.
Cecil checked back into the game as the Rockets held a 12 point lead with 5:42 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But then Barney picked up her fifth foul in a fight for a rebound — she ended with 11 points — then Cecil picked up her fifth foul on an offensive foul, finishing the game with 12 points.
With two key players on the bench, Bucyrus went on another a 10-2 run to cut the lead to only four points with a minute remaining.
“We knew they were going to come back,” Kontak said. “They have too much price to give up, because they are a veteran team.”
But the Lady Red could not close the gap as they did not score in the final minute of the game.
Oak Harbor closed game with Amanda Hetrick splitting four free throws in the final 30 seconds of play, sending the Rockets to Saturday's championship game.