Her key baskets ignited the Knights past West Branch in the district final, 40-31.
UNIONTOWN -- In a close game one player can make a difference. In the Division II district final at Lake High School, it was Akron Hoban's Tenishia Benson.
The quick guard scored 19 points and continually came up with key baskets, leading the Knights to a 40-31 victory over defending state champion West Branch Saturday.
The Warriors (18-6) trailed the entire game, but were behind only 34-31 with about five minutes remaining in the game. Time and again, West Branch forced a missed shot or turnover, but couldn't convert at the offensive end.
Stacy Braden led West Branch with 13 points, but she was hampered much of the first half with foul trouble.
"Stacy Braden's a key component of our offense or defense," said Campbell, "but more importantly offense because she handles the ball for us and when she goes to the bench we are going to feel that. We needed her in the game at given times when she had to go to the bench."
Big third quarter for Braden
Braden scored 10 of West Branch's 18 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Warriors trailing 32-27.
Tori Arndt and Evelyn Woods added six points each for the Warriors. Arndt was held scoreless in the first half, which ended with Hoban on top, 17-9.
Arndt also had six rebounds for West Branch, which committed 14 turnovers.
"Early in the game one of the things we talked about [is] they had a couple girls that were pretty quick going to the board," said Campbell. "We tried to mix our defenses up a little bit and I thought we did a good job of finding people. We just didn't have an answer for [Benson]."
Katie Arbogast scored nine points for the Knights (19-5), who were only 12-of-26 at the foul line.
Hoban advanced to the regional tournament, starting Tuesday at Ontario High School.
"Anytime you get to this point there's a lot of things involved," said Campbell. "You have to have a little bit of luck on your side. You have to hope that you keep people in the game that are going to be key to you."
The game marked the end of Campbell's career at West Branch, who announced his retirement from teaching and coaching earlier. He finished with 301 career victories and last year's state championship.
"I've been very fortunate to be at West Branch," he said, "and actually, blessed to be in an area that people come to watch. The people in our community get wrapped up in sports and especially in girls basketball over the last couple of years. We've had about as many packed gyms as anyone in the state."