Hunt. Ross advances to finals

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2003

COLUMBUS - Inability to execute the fundamentals of basketball cost Bucyrus Wynford a chance at its first state finals appearance.

The Lady Royals (26-1) lost their chance to be the lone unbeaten girls team in the state because they shot 1-for-11 on free throws, were 23-for-58 from the field and couldn't overcome one of the most basic premises of basketball: When in doubt, get it inside.

Nicole DePugh scored 28 points, had 18 rebounds and dominated the low post as Chillicothe Huntington beat Wynford 55-50 Thursday night to advance in a Division III semifinal game.

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The Lady Huntsmen (22-5), making their first state tournament appearance, take on three-time defending state champion South Euclid Regina in Saturday's championship game.

And they can thank DePugh.

The 6-foot-3 center, the tallest player on either team by three inches, dominated inside in the first half, scoring 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting and pulling down 12 rebounds.

In the second half, the Lady Royals began using a zone to try and slow DePugh down, but it didn't work.

DePugh kept the Lady Huntsmen in the game, scoring from point-blank range and shutting down the middle to the Lady Royals. She finished with four blocks and forced Wynford to settle for jump shots or attempts at lobbing the ball over her toward the basket.

When Huntington needed her the most, DePugh responded, scoring back-to-back layups to give the Lady Huntsmen a 52-48 lead with a little more than two minutes left.

Danielle Grochowalski cut the lead to 52-50 with a jumper with 45 seconds to play, but the Lady Royals couldn't get any closer.

Grochowalski led Wynford with 19 points and 10 rebounds and first-team all-Ohioan Amber Rall added 17. Crystal McCloskey had 11 for Huntington.

The Lady Huntsmen trailed 31-27 at halftime after DePugh scored with two seconds left in the half. They fell behind 39-31 before closing the third period on an 11-3 run to tie the score at 42 entering the fourth quarter.