The Irish had little trouble eliminating Cardinal Mooney, 64-31.
HANOVERTON -- Tyra Grant scored 33 points and the Ursuline High defense held Cardinal Mooney to just four first quarter points, as the Irish defeated the Cardinals, 64-31, in the Division III district championship game at United High School Saturday.
With the win -- Ursuline's fifth straight district championship and its sixth district crown in the last seven seasons -- the defending state champs advanced to "Sweet 16" play and will face Regina at Cuyahoga Falls Wednesday, the winner of the Rootstown District.
"Both teams played really hard today but to our credit we started fast and had plenty of intensity," Irish coach Sean Durkin said.
"We're a different team now than the first two times we met, playing now at a much quicker pace," he added. "At halftime we felt we got a little complacent, then made a few adjustments and played the second half like I felt we are capable of playing."
Jumped out early
Buckets by Grant and Vanessa Dickson, and two free throws by Cierra Bennett, gave the Irish an early 6-0 lead before Gina Brunetti's jumper at the 5:26 mark put the Cardinals on the board for the first time.
Grant, who was also the game's leading rebounder with eight, added nine of the Irish's final 13 points in the period for a 19-4 Ursuline advantage.
"Tyra [Grant] is a tough match-up for most teams and she does it at both ends of the floor," Durkin noted. "I expect her to come up big in games like this and she did exactly that today."
Leading the Cardinals
Amber Bodrick, who had a team high 15 points for the Cardinals, scored four of her team's first eight points of the second stanza as Mooney cut the Irish lead to 25-14.
But Grant, whose 21 points at halftime was three more than the entire Mooney first half output, scored 10 points in the quarter as Ursuline forged 31-18 lead at intermission.
"We made a run in the second half to cut into their lead, but they did an excellent job defensively, especially on Amber Bodrick and that hurt us," Cardinals coach Jack Bermann said. "The better team won today. There's a reason they are district, regional and state champs. That experience is a real asset.
Bodrick's bucket at the 5:43 mark of the third period cut the Ursuline lead to 31-22, but Grant's hoop at the 3:20 mark increased the Irish lead to 41-22. Brunetti's bucket and a free throw by Bodrick for the Cardinals offset a Vanessa Dickson jumper, but Ursuline was able to build 43-25 lead after three quarters of play.
Foul line success
Making 11-of-12 free throws in the final stanza, Ursuline held the Cardinals to just one bucket in the final quarter en-route to their 33 point margin of victory.
The Fighting Irish made 24-of-45 field goal attempts and connected on 16-of-20 tosses at the foul line. The Cardinals hit just 10-of-48 from the field and made 10-of-19 free throw attempts.
Dayna Daltorio of Cardinal Mooney hit the game's only bucket from beyond the arc, that coming in the second period.
Ursuline held a 40-29 edge on the boards as Bodrick hauled in six rebounds for the Cardinals.