Highland 83, Kenmore 70
MEDINA: Porshae Hearn was superb in her final game in a Kenmore uniform, but the Cardinals couldn’t keep up with Highland and fell in a Division I sectional final at Medina High School on Thursday night.
Hearn poured in 40 points, weaving through Highland’s double-teams and scoring from everywhere on the floor. She scored 17 points in the second quarter alone (nine in a row, at one point) to keep Kenmore within striking distance, trailing 41-31 at halftime. Her 40 points tied a season high from the 2012 opening game against Green. She also had four steals and three assists.
“She’s just unbelievable,” Highland coach Bernard Bohla said. “We felt the only way to take her out of the game was to get her tired. We had two girls running at her, three girls running at her, and she was just running by us.”
Hearn has been leading Kenmore for a long time. Losing No. 3 will create a tough hole to fill. Kenmore coach Yontami Jones knows Hearn as well as anyone after the two built a relationship that exceeded just player-coach. Hearn would come in to help set up for practice and was a mainstay for the basketball program.
“We grew up together this past year,” Jones said. “Last year, we were in a rough place. This year, we jelled. I don’t want to say like we’re mother and daughter, but it’s close. ... I’m gonna truly, truly, truly miss her.”
As Hearn took over one end of the floor, Highland (16-8) boasted a balanced attack at the other. Senior AnnMarie Kirchner and junior Anna Rose Wiencek scored 18 and 16 points, respectively. Sophomore Mallory Adams had 11 points and freshmen Marlee Profitt and Samantha Catron each added seven.
Outside of Hearn, the Cardinals (15-8) have a young roster. Highland has a more ideal blend of youth and experience. But both teams began the game sloppy and in a rush, forcing passes and falling into foul trouble. Between the two, they had 28 turnovers and 26 team fouls in the first half alone.
Murphy saw how sloppy the play had become, but the fast-paced, up-and-down-the-court game it turned into fit in with Highland’s philosophy to try to tire Kenmore’s playmakers.
“It was playground ball,” Bohla said. “But we knew we had to get them tired because they’re good athletes. [Hearn, sophomore Casey McCormick], not to mention the whole team. But I think the game plan of trying to wear them down paid off for us.”
Highland began to beat Kenmore down the floor off defensive rebounds, and outscored the Cardinals 23-11 in the third quarter to take a 64-42 lead with eight minutes remaining. McCormick (10 points) and Hearn kept scoring but couldn’t find a serious chance to close the gap.
Brunswick 59, Firestone 36
Brunswick senior center Gabrielle Bulic was far too much for Firestone to handle inside, and the Blue Devils rolled in a Division I sectional semifinal.
Bulic finished with a game-high 22 points to power the Blue Devils (17-6) at both ends of the floor. Senior Courtney Laudato and sophomore Paige Salisbury each added 11 points.
Firestone (15-9) was led by senior Imani Scott, who had 11 points. Junior Yolanda Sims and senior Brooke Morgan each had seven points. Morgan also had five steals and spurred a second-quarter comeback before Brunswick put the game out of reach.
Brunswick and Highland will meet in a district semifinal at 6 p.m. Thursday at Medina.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.