Blue Devils celebrate district championship
MINERAL RIDGE — Two of the biggest free throws in Autumn’s Oehlstrom career came in the final six seconds of Saturday’s Division IV district title game to give the Blue Devils their first trip to regionals since 1991 with a 48-47 win over Valley Christian.
“I knew I had to make one for us to go into overtime, but once I let go of that second free throw it was going in,” Oehlstrom said.
The seventh-seeded Lisbon Blue Devils (17-9) advance to the regionals to face Dalton on Thursday at Massillon Perry High School.
Fifth-seeded Valley Christian finishes the season 16-8.
Oehlstrom was fouled and converted on two free throws with six seconds after a hectic final minute of the title game.
Oehlstrom finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
“Autumn is one of our best free throw shooters but she just doesn’t get there a lot,” Lisbon coach Jamie Entrikin said. “I wouldn’t have asked for anyone else to be at the line in that situation.”
On the way to the title, the Blue Devils knocked out the second, third and fifth seeds of the Mineral Ridge district.
“Beating McDonald really gave them confidence,” Entrikin said. “Once we beat Western Reserve they were like why not us.”
Izzy Perez led the way for the Blue Devils with 13 points, six assists and three steals. Oehlstrom had 10 points and five rebounds.
“The atmosphere of this game was amazing,” Perez said. “I told Autumn at the end of the game I wouldn’t send anyone else to line but her. Autumn’s a consistent shooter and I knew she had it.”
The Blue Devils regained possession after Valley Christian turned the ball over with 28 seconds.
“It was so surreal,” Entrikin said. “We knew what we were going to run when we got the ball back but it didn’t work. Autumn got the rebound and got fouled. The girl has ice in her veins. She’s a hard worker and always seems composed.”
Valley Christian led 47-46 with 51 seconds remaining and turned the ball over after an over-and-back call.
Lisbon’s next possesion was turned over to the Eagles when they failed to inbound the ball.
“The girls never gave up on the play,” Entrikin said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been this far and it’s nice to win this.”
Lisbon made state two years prior to its last regional trip under head coach Steve Stewart 27 years ago.
Entrikin credits the turning point of the season being a 57-34 loss to Beaver Local on February 12.
“After that loss we went into the locker room and said we can’t play like this,” Entrikin said. “Since that day they’ve played as a team and for each other.”
The Blue Devils mindset changed after that regular season finale loss.
“We were on a downhill stretch before that game,” Oehlstrom said. “We knew we had to work through it because we are a good team. Now that we are here it’s incredible. Everybody on this team loves each other and it’s great.”
Having a big game in the post for the Blue Devils was Maddie Liberati with a double-double finishing with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Lisbon trailed at the end of one period 14-10 after Valley Christian closed the quarter on a 6-2 run.
The Blue Devils took their first lead in the second quarter after Perez hit a three making the score 19-17. The next possesion Chloe Smith hit another three making it 22-17.
Lisbon took a 28-24 lead going into halftime after Perez stole an outlet pass from Valley Christian and made a layup at the buzzer.
Valley Christian had a come back in the third quarter leading 37-34 going into the final frame.
“This is what it’s all about,” Valley Christian coach William Hoelzel said. “Two teams going at it with the lead going back and forth. At the end of the day this is a game that teaches our girls about life and it was an honor to go against a well coached team like Lisbon.”
Lisbon retook the lead at 42-40 and then Valley Christian came back to take a 47-46 lead going into the final minute after two turnovers.
“This is the kind of basketball we’ve played all year,” Hoelzel said. “We had the ball in the person’s hands we wanted it to and we turned it over. You can’t turn it over that late in the game. Lisbon earned this win.”
Valley Christian was led by Imane Snyder and Ne’Syiah Taylor, who each had 14 points.
¯ The Blue Devils team lost to Valley Christian on opening night 61-44.
“Everything was new to us that first game,” Oehlstrom said. “Now we know what we have to do and we did it tonight.”
¯ Lisbon’s Izzy Perez has been dealing with the flu over the past week and left the game briefly at the end of the third quarter.
“Izzy’s had the flu for about a week now,” Entrikin said. “She basically took the past two days off. Her leaving was basically just to refuel and she battled through. She has grown up so much over this season and I’m so proud of the leader she has become.”
“I knew that this game would come down to who wanted it more,” Perez said. “We knew we wanted it more and worked the hardest.”
¯ Lisbon’s first regional trip in 27 years will be against Dalton, the top seed from the Norwayne district.
“I’ve got to go find some film in the next day and a half so we can prepare for them starting Monday,” Entrikin said. “I know we are going to be the Cinderella team going in but who knows maybe Cinderella will get to dance again.”
Lisbon will face Dalton at approximately 8 p.m. in the second semifinal at Massillon Perry.
The first semifinal features Cornerstone Christian versus Buckeye Central.
¯ Lisbon hadn’t attempted a free throw until the fourth quarter but converted on six-of-six attempts in the final frame.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN: 14-10-13-10–47
LISBON SCORING: Izzy Perez 6-0-13, Cadee Johnson 2-0-4, Hailee Carpenter 1-2-4, Chloe Smith 2-0-5, Autumn Oehlstrom 3-4-10, Alyssa Chestnut 0-0-0, Maddie Liberati 5-0-10, Corinne Freeman 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 6-6: 48.
VALLEY CHRISTIAN SCORING: Taylor Jones 1-1-3, Asia Jones 1-0-2, India Snyder 2-0-5, Kristen Gill 3-0-9, Imane Snyder 6-0-14, Ne’Syiah Taylor 6-2-14. TEAM TOTALS: 19, 7-14: 47.
Three-point goals: Lisbon 2 (Smith, Perez), Valley Christian 2 (Imane Snyder 2).