The Ohio University Eastern Panthers advanced on both the men's and women's brackets of the ORC State Tournament Sunday, as both teams moved to Final Four contests Saturday, Feb. 21 at Ohio University Chillicothe. The men took advantage of a monster game by Barnesville's Colin Hudson to coast past the University of Akron-Wayne for the second time in as many weeks 74-65. The Panther women used the heroics of senior Charity Street to eke out a 60-58 decision against OU Chillicothe
The women, playing at Ohio University Lancaster, played a tight game against Chillicothe, the second place team in the ORC West. With her team down 58-56, All-ORC player Amanda Angles drove the lane and hit a layup to tie the contest at 58. Instead of taking a timeout, Panthers boss E.J. Schodzinski elected to play on. With 20 seconds left, Street walked the ball up the court. A clear-out play was called, and the senior drove the lane, but missed her lay-up. She worked the offensive boards, and was fouled on the follow up attempt giving her two shots from the line. She sunk both with four second son the clock, and the stout Panthers D did not allow the Hilltoppers a shot, sealing the win.
"When Chillicothe tied it, most coaches would elect to take the timeout." explained Schodzinski. "I have so much faith in Charity, that I knew letting her walk it up was the best bet. Instead of letting their defense get set, I let her take control. Not every coached is blessed with a player they can trust like that. I honestly hope we're in the same position next week. It was an excellent defensive battle, and our bench was strong today. Savannah Burke was also strong on a knee she hurt Thursday in practice.
Burke lead the way with 19 points and 8 boards, while Street scored 12 to go with six assists, six boards, and five steals for a strong all around game.
At Clay Liddick Gym in Zanesville, the Panthers saw senior Colin Hudson have a huge game in leading his squad to the final four.
The first half saw Eastern jump out early, posting a 10-point advantage behind the usual suspects of Hudson, Caldwell's Jason Shaw, and Harrison Central's Dan Milleson. The Warriors did move closer behind the inside play of June Wilder and the outside shooting of Drew Fetter, but even their full-court press couldn't cut the lead to anything less than eight, as Eastern went to the break up 35-27. UAW did win the turnover battle in the first 20 minutes 9-8, but cold shooting, combined with Hudson, Shaw, and West Muskingum's Tim Theobald cleaning the glass for a total of 19 boards kept the Warriors down.
The second half saw the Maroon and Gold shoot from the charity stripe 13 times, and nail seven shots from behind the bonus line, including three from Fetter, but the Mean Green was just too strong on the boards with Hudson snagging 10 more in the second frame. Shaw also had two blocks and Theobald added a giant swat, keeping the Warriors at bay. Turnovers were nearly even again with the Warriors having eight more second half miscues to OUE's 10. Eight of Eastern's 10 players scored and all 10 contributed somehow in the stat line.
The biggest performance came from Hudson, as the senior was nearly unstoppable. The former Shamrock had 22 points and 21 boards to lead the way. Shaw added 19 points and 10 boards. A pair of Harrison Central Huskies also played well with Milleson scoring 12, and Dave Barcroft hitting for 10. St. Clairsville's Adam Perzanowski lead for assists with six, and Theobald netted six to go with six boards and a block.
The Panthers teams will both go for the ORC crown next week. The men, who improve to 14-7 on the season, go for their third tournament title in school history, making their fifth Final Four appearance this decade. The will play number one seed Miami Middletown at Ohio University Chillicothe at five in the afternoon on the 21st. If they are victorious, they will play Sunday the 22nd at three. The women, who improve to 16-4, will look for their seventh tourney title since 1990. The ladies in green will play number one seed Cincinnati Clermont, who won the ORC West and was undefeated in conference play. Their game will also be at Chillicothe on the 21st with a 1 p.m. tip. The women's final is the 22nd at one.