SPRINGFIELD — Tom Sunderman would have been let down had his Badin High School girls basketball team just up and tossed in the towel on Friday night.
But the Rams didn’t. They battled, like he knew they would.
Badin rallied back from an 18-2 deficit before Purcell Marian sophomore Dee Alexander took over in the second half to boost the Cavaliers to a 64-54 Division II regional final victory at Springfield.
“That’s the only thing I would have been disappointed about,” Sunderman said. “But there’s no way these girls were going to lay down.”
Badin (24-3) made its third straight appearance in the regional final and was seeking its first regional title since 2004.
Purcell Marian (25-2), the defending Division III state champion, is making a third consecutive trip to the state tournament. The Cavaliers were Division III state semifinalists in 2021.
Badin held Alexander, a finalist for Ohio Ms. Basketball, to just four points in the first half. She finished with a game-high 28.
The Cavaliers take on Bryan in a Division II state semifinal at 11 a.m. on March 9 at University of Dayton Arena.
Purcell Marian surged ahead to a 12-0 lead before freshman Braelyn Even put Badin on the board with a bucket at the 2:30 mark of the first quarter. The Cavaliers led 18-5 heading into the second period.
“We were obviously nervous at the beginning. But we also knew that we had nothing to lose because they won state last year,” said Badin sophomore guard Gracie Cosgrove, who sunk four 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 22 points. “We just went in and gave it our best.”
“I just told the girls to stay the course,” Sunderman added. “We weren’t going to get it all back at once. We were just going to have to chip away.”
The Rams did just that.
Badin outscored Purcell Marian 19-6 in the second quarter, which tied the game at 24 heading into the half.
“This is a game of runs. We had our run early on, they had their run. We’ve just got to keep on playing for 32 minutes,” Purcell Marian coach Jamar Mosley said. “We go to overtime, then we’ve got to play the extended minutes. But we’ve just got to continue to play for 32 minutes no matter what’s going on.”
Badin senior Alyvia Hegemann scored eight of her 12 points in the third quarter, including a 3-pointer that gave the Rams their first lead 27-24 right out of the halftime break.
“We knew we had to put everything out there on the court in order for us to win,” Hegemann said. “We knew this was a great team. They obviously have some great players, and we had to put up our best. I think we did that.”
Badin senior Lauren Grawe, who had nine points, drained a 3-point bucket to tie it at 44 with 6:51 left to play. Even, who was called for three offensive charges, fouled out shortly after that.
“These kids fight too hard, and our coaches work too hard, but a lot of iffy calls changed the way we play in the second half,” Sunderman said. “If you overcome all of that adversity, the next two games will be easier.”
Alexander scored 13 in the fourth quarter, and Badin only made one free throw in the final 2:30.
Sunderman said he figured Alexander, a 6-foot-1 forward who averages 25.8 points a game, was going to make her presence felt inside the paint. He just didn’t want his Rams to give her extra points at the foul line.
“We were doing some uncharacteristic things early,” Sunderman said. “We missed some defensive assignments. We ended up making some defensive adjustments early, which was good. Our game plan coming in was to limit their 3s and not let Alexander get to the rim and get fouled.”
Badin, which brought a 14-game winning streak into Friday’s contest, graduates four seniors — Lauren Christie, Erin Beeber, Grawe and Hegemann.
“We laughed every day,” Hegemann said. “I think that bond showed on the court. We were able to connect on a different level that I think most teams can’t.”