By Chad Grant
NORWALK — In the Wadsworth girls basketball team’s 43-39 loss to Toledo Notre Dame Academy in the Norwalk Division I Regional championship game, two players turned in big performances for the Grizzlies in separate situations.
McKenzie O’Brien helped Wadsworth (25-3) enter the half with the lead and Haley Hassinger kept the Grizzlies in the game as the Eagles (25-3) slowly tried to take over.
O’Brien went on a tear in the first half, scoring 14 of her team’s 25 first-half points as Wadsworth built a 25-22 lead.
The senior guard hit nothing but net on four consecutive 3-pointers as she took advantage of some open looks caused by solid ball movement and an Eagles defense that was in chase mode early.
“That’s a kid that you know coming in to every game that she’s not going to be too scared to play regardless of the circumstances,” Wadsworth coach Andrew Booth said. “I’ve seen her play since she was a little kid, and she’s just a kid that doesn’t let the surroundings get the best of her. She hit four threes in the first half and, without that, it could have been real shaky.”
O’Brien, who finished her career with more than 1,000 points after spending her first two seasons at Mansfield St. Peter’s, started the second quarter on a personal 8-0 run that brought Wadsworth from four points down and ended with the Grizzlies up 20-16.
“These are such nice rims I was just feeling the shot,” she said. “I was open, too. Later on, I started getting guarded and other girls starting picking it up.”
Hassinger was the one who filled the void.
When the Eagles defensive focus switched to stopping O’Brien, Hassinger kicked it in when her team needed it to end an 8-2 run to start the third quarter by Notre Dame.
The senior buried a huge trey to even the game back up at 30 to help set up the back-and-forth finish.
“She’s primarily a perimeter jump shooter,” Booth said. “But she did a nice job attacking the rim and finishing inside in the second half with a couple of big buckets.”
Her next two baskets were also game-tying points, knotting the game at 34 and 36 in the fourth quarter to help the Grizzlies keep pace.
“I just wanted to win the game,” said Hassinger, a niece of Medina coach Chris Hassinger. “I wanted to do it for my team and I knew if I didn’t do it now, that we weren’t going to get a second chance. So I gave it all I had.”
Contact Chad Grant at email@example.com.