Grant sparks Ursuline to final
She became the area's all-time leading scorer as the Irish beat Waterloo, 60-42.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CUYAHOGA FALLS -- Now Tyra Grant has only one thing to worry about -- getting the Ursuline High girls basketball team to Columbus and the Division III state tournament.
Wednesday night Grant put on another exhibition as she scored 35 points, pulled down 16 rebounds and added seven steals, six assists and two blocked shots, leading Ursuline to a regional semifinal victory over Waterloo, 60-42.
Now the Irish will meet Garfield Heights Trinity, a 61-53 upset winner over South Euclid Regina, the top-ranked team in Division III. The Trojans carry a 21-4 record into Saturday's matchup against Ursuline, which will tip-off at 1:30 p.m.
Area's all-time scoring leader
With her 35 points Grant, who will take her game to Penn State next fall, broke the Valley's all-time girls career scoring record, previously held by Boardman High's standout, Amber Bland.
Bland scored 2,190 points during her four years at Boardman and Grant broke the record in the second quarter on a 3-point basket and increased her total to 2,211 career points.
"It was not something that I was really thinking about," Grant said. "But I'm glad that it's over and now we can concentrate on getting to state."
Ursuline coach Sean Durkin had nothing but praise for his senior standout.
"She's the best I've ever coached," said Durkin. "I've seen a lot of great players not only from this area, but around the state and she's the best that I've ever seen."
No Regina to battle
Saturday's game with Garfield Heights Trinity will mark the first time the Irish will play a team other than Regina in the semifinal or finals of the regional tournament since the 2000-01 season.
Ursuline had met Regina five straight years, winning just once in 2003-04 when the Irish went on to capture the Division III state championship.
"Whoever we play it certainly helps when you feel that you have the best player in the state on your team," said Durkin. "Whenever she's in the game we feel we have a chance to win."
Wednesday night the Irish didn't start out all that strongly, probably because Grant missed her first four shots, and the Vikings jumped out to a 6-2 lead.
Vannessa Dickson, who added 15 points -- she and Grant outscored the entire Waterloo team, scored the Irish's first basket, before Grant took over and scored the next eight points and Ursuline was in the lead for good, 12-8.
Broke scoring mark
Grant became the area's all-time career scoring leader with 3:53 remaining in the second quarter when she drained a 3-point shot to put the Irish up 24-18, but the Vikings wouldn't go away and crept to within six points at the intermission, 30-24.
Laura Schiele, who led Waterloo with 18 points, completed a three-point play with 4:21 remaining in the third quarter to pull the Vikings to within three points, 34-31, but Ursuline then took control and outscored the Vikings 15-1 over those last four minutes to take a commanding 49-32 lead into the final quarter.
Grant, who was 13-for 29 from the field and 3-of-8 from behind the arc, was also 6-of-8 at the foul line and didn't miss her first free throw until the final period.
Better second half
"The second half we played much better defense against them," Durkin said. "They had us in early foul trouble and I was concerned in the first half.
Grant, who said it didn't matter who the Irish met in the finals, didn't stay around to watch the second game.
"Are you kidding? I've got a project for school that's due. I'm going home and going to work," she said.