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Walnut Hills girls' basketball team savors its district championship

Posted at 2:47 PM, Mar 03, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-04 02:50:24-05

SHARONVILLE, Ohio -- As the Walnut Hills girls' basketball team prepared to cut down the net early Saturday afternoon at Princeton, Eagles coach Adam Lazar was in tears.

"I've got two kids and a wife," Lazar said. "Other than that, this is the best day of my life. It really is."

Walnut Hills defeated McAuley 60-57 to win its second district title in program history and the first since 2010.

PHOTO GALLERY: Walnut Hills 60, McAuley 57

Walnut Hills (25-1) has the best record in program history and will make its second regional tournament appearance next week when it plays Lakota West (24-2) March 7 at Trent Arena in Kettering (6:15 p.m. tipoff).

Walnut Hills, winners of 18 consecutive games, trailed by seven at the end of the first quarter Saturday morning and faced a 12-point deficit early in the second.

Midway through the second quarter, the Eagles went on a 9-0 run. The players simply calmed down. Walnut Hills closed the gap to 39-36 at halftime.

The game was close throughout the third quarter and had four ties in the fourth.

Senior guard Regan Anderson's layup gave the Eagles a 58-57 lead and sophomore guard/forward Miyah Brooks made two free throws to seal the game.

The Eagles never doubted their resolve despite 19 turnovers.

Lazar said Walnut Hills stopped being a basketball team in February and treated each other like family.

"The honest truth is, I'm fortunate to be their coach," Lazar said. "I am just lucky. It ain't me. I'm just so lucky to be around a group of girls that just don't quit."

Lazar has coached boys and girls basketball for 18 years and said he's never seen a group as mentally tough as this Eagles' team.  

"When you start playing for each other instead of worrying about wins -- the wins start taking care of themselves," Lazar said.


Walnut Hills coach Adam Lazar said winning the district title was an emotional moment for his program. (Tony Tribble photo)


Anderson had 18 points and seven rebounds for Walnut Hills. Junior forward Zuri Williams added 12 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward/center Kennedi Myles, a Miami University verbal commit, had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Anderson and her teammates danced on the floor in celebration of their district title as the postgame celebration started.

"It's really special because it's my senior year and I am trying to make the most of it," Anderson said. "I don't want to have any regrets when I graduate."

Williams said the district title represents how strong the team is as a family.

"It's exciting to know how much support we have," Williams said.

McAuley (20-4) was led senior guard Hallie Heidemann, who had a game-high 22 points. The Ashland University signee also surpassed the 1,000 career points milestone. She also took five charges during Saturday's game, which showed her versatility.

"She just does so much for this program as far as making the right play," McAuley coach Dan Wallace said. "She is such a smart basketball player. I think she has made the players around her better because they have learned from her basketball IQ."

Sophomore guard Lexi Fleming added 14 points for the Mohawks.

McAuley averaged 20-win seasons for four years. Wallace said he couldn't be more proud of his team. This was the final basketball game for McAuley High School.

McAuley and Mercy will close this summer and merge to form Mercy McAuley High School this fall. The new school will operate on McAuley's current campus on Oakwood Avenue in College Hill.

"I think we made McAuley proud," Wallace said. "I think we did the right thing. For four years we did the right thing and played basketball the right way. We showed tremendous sportsmanship. I think that's something that McAuley can close on with a lot of pride and maybe the new school can run with it a little bit."