LOGAN — With the banks apparently open late Wednesday night in Hocking County, Wheelersburg junior Lani Irwin barely beat closing time to make a not-so-late deposit.

Irwin banked in a desperation three from the right of the key at the buzzer to lift the Pirates to a stunning 56-55 victory over Morgan to conclude Wednesday night’s Division III girls basketball regional twinbill in Jim Myers Gymnasium.

It was the only bucket of the night for the 5-foot-2 Irwin, who undoubtedly made the biggest shot of Wheelersburg’s season to keep the Scioto Countians’ state tournament hopes alive.

They’ll have a tall task in Saturday’s regional final, however, as Berlin Hiland looked strong and formidable in dispatching Alexander to the sidelines by a 59-30 count in Wednesday’s opener.

Hiland (25-2), ranked No. 4 in the final state Associated Press Division III poll, will take on Wheelersburg (23-4) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday back in Jim’s Gym, with the winner punching a ticket to next week’s state tournament in Columbus.

It certainly looked like Morgan (18-8), a team small in stature but huge in heart and hustle, used a 13-0 run to rally from an early 9-2 deficit to take a 26-17 halftime advantage and held off a third-period ‘Burg rally to take a 42-35 edge into what proved to be a thrilling fourth quarter.

Morgan led 46-40 before Wheelersburg drew even at 46-46 and 48-48 before Morgan’s Sophia Smith netted both ends of a one-and-one and Rilee Coon (a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double) made two FTs of her own to give the Raiders a 52-48 lead with 1:26 left.

Wheelersburg drew within 54-53 by sandwiching an Abbie Kallner (20 points, including 13 in the final period) elbow jumper and top-of-the-key three, the latter with 18 seconds left, around two Kara Hopkins (nine points, eight rebounds) free throws for Morgan.

Hopkins was fouled with 12.6 seconds remaining and made the front end of a two-shot situation for a 55-53 lead but missed the second. Wheelersburg, which was out of time-outs, quickly pushed the ball downcourt but couldn’t get a good shot as Morgan’s defense locked in.

With time expiring, Ellie Kallner (eight points, four assists) dished to Irwin at the right of the key and the junior desperately winged the ball toward the bucket just before time expired.

With all due respect, the shot was actually so bad that it was good. Irwin’s desperation throw line-drive banked off the right side of the board and shot through the hoop as time expired, sending Wheelersburg players, coaches and fans onto the court while stunned Morgan girls could only walk over to their bench.

Not that Wheelersburg didn’t deserve to win, but it was a game Morgan certainly didn’t deserve to lose… but that’s tournament life.

Kaylee Darnell added 15 points for Wheelersburg, which didn’t commit a single turnover in the final quarter while forcing Morgan into five miscues to earn a miraculous victory.

The Raiders had great scoring balance, with Coon’s 12 points topping a list that saw Hopkins and Kaylie Apperson both net nine points and Avery Dillaha and Smith both chip in seven.

Game one was all Hiland.

The Hawks scored the game’s first eight points, led 14-2 after one quarter and extended their margin to 32-9 at halftime as Hiland’s Morgan Yoder hitting a buzzer-beating triple.

Things got no better in the third stanza for the Spartans (23-3), who were rated No. 7 in the final AP poll, as an 11-0 Hiland run gave the Hawks an insurmountable 45-13 advantage.

Brynn Mullett, Zoe Miller and Kyli Horn led the winners with 16, 15 and 12 points, respectively, with Miller adding 10 rebounds for a double-double. Yoder added eight points and nine boards.

Alexander, which only got 17 points from its starters, was led by Marlee Grinstead with eight points and Rachel Richardson with six. Division III regional

at Jim Myers Gymnasium

Hiland 59, Alexander 30

Hiland 14 18 15 12—59

Alexander 2 7 12 9—30

BERLIN HILAND 59 (25-2): Morgan Yoder 2 3-4 8, Brynn Mullet 5 2-2 16, Kelsey Swihart 0 2-3 2, Kendra Shetler 1-0-2, Zoe Miller 6 3-5 15, Krista Troyer 1-0-2, Alia Miller 1-0-2, Kyli Horn 4 2-2 12, Abby Miller 0 0-2 0. Totals 20 12-18 59. 3-pt FG: Mullet 4, Horn 2, Yoder.

ALEXANDER 30 (23-3): Jadyn Mace 1 1-2 3, McKena Rice 0, Rachel Richardson 1 4-4 6, Kara Meeks 0, Marlee Grinstead 4-0-8, Mallory Rankin 1-0-3, Erin Scurlock 1-0-2, Sydnie Bolin 1-0-2, Makaela Trout 1-0-3, Jaide Allison 1 0-1 3. Totals 11 5-7 30. 3-pt FG: Rankin, Trout, Allison.

FG: Hiland 20-51 (.392), Alexander 11-43 (.255). 3-pt FG: Hiland 7-16 (.438), Alexander 3-18 (.167). FT: Hiland 12-18 (.667), Alexander 5-7 (.714). Rebounds: Hiland 43 (Z. Miller 10, Yoder 9, Shetler 7, Alia Miller 6), Alexander 24 (Rice 4, Meeks 4). Assists: Hiland 10 (Yoder 3), Alexander 4. Turnovers: Hiland 14, Alexander 19. Fouls: Hiland 13, Alexander 14

———

Wheelersburg 56, Morgan 55

W’burg 9 8 18 21—56

Morgan 6 20 16 13—55

WHEELERSBURG 56 (23-4): Lauren Jolly 0, Abbie Kallner 9-0-20, Lani Irwin 1-0-3, Alaina Kenney 2 4-4 9, Karlie Estep 0 1-2 1, Ellie Kallner 2 2-2 8, Kaylee Darnell 5 2-2 15. Totals 19 9-10 56. 3-pt FG: Darnell 3, A. Kallner 2, E. Kallner 2, Irwin, Keeney.

MORGAN 55 (18-8): Avery Dillaha 3-0-7, Katie Hook 2 1-1 5, Rilee Coon 5 2-3 12, Kara Hopkins 2 5-6 9, Kaylie Apperson 4-0-9, Sophia Smith 2 2-2 7, Heaven Williams 1-0-2, Tori Miller 2-0-4. Totals 21 10-12 55. 3-pt FG: Dillaha, Apperson, Smith.

FG: Wheelersburg 19-53 (.358), Morgan 21-47 (.447). 3-pt FG: Wheelersburg 9-27 (.333), Morgan 3-15 (.200). FT: Wheelersburg 9-10 (.900), Morgan 10-12 (.833). Rebounds: Wheelersburg 26 (Keeney 6), Morgan 32 (Coon 10, Hopkins 8). Assists: Wheelersburg 11 (E. Kallner 4, Keeney 3), Morgan 8 (Dillaha, Hopkins and Apperson 2 each). Turnovers: Wheelersburg 10, Morgan 15. Fouls: Wheelersburg 15, Morgan 11.

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