DAYTON, Ohio — Purcell Marian High School won't soon forget the girls basketball team's first trip to the state tournament and its very memorable season.
Berlin Hiland defeated Purcell Marian 47-40 in a Division III state semifinal Thursday night at University of Dayton Arena.
Berlin Hiland (27-1), ranked No. 1 in the season's final Associated Press Division III state poll, advances to play Ottawa-Glandorf (26-2) in the state final at 2 p.m. Saturday.
However, Purcell Marian (21-4), ranked No. 9 in the state poll, gave everything it had against Hiland throughout the game.
Purcell Marian was led by several players Thursday night including senior Jariah McCrory (nine points, seven rebounds), junior McKenna Haugabook (nine points) and senior Leah Smith (eight points).
Purcell Marian led early in the fourth quarter and outscored Hiland 17-12 in the third. However, a Hiland 3-pointer with 4:57 left gave it the lead for good.
Senior forward Zoe Miller led Hiland with a game-high 16 points along with five rebounds and three assists.
For Purcell Marian, it was a season to remember.
The team captured the first regional title in program history on March 6 during its third consecutive trip to the regional final.
Purcell Marian defeated Worthington Christian 39-36 to earn a trip to Dayton.
The school celebrated its regional championship earlier this week and there was a sendoff for the team prior to Thursday night's game.
"The school community has done a tremendous job of supporting us," Purcell Marian coach Jamar Mosley said earlier this week.
Purcell Marian has had a varsity girls basketball program since 1982, according to athletic director D.J. Dowdy. That was the first year of the merger and with the school known as Purcell Marian.
Mosley credited the seniors for their perseverance and leadership the past few years on and off the court within the program.
The life lessons on and off the court are certainly emphasized at the school and in the program.
"I feel like our girls have really been playing the game of basketball and getting more out of it because they all know at some point basketball is going to stop," Mosley said. "How are you going to go out and contribute after that basketball stops?"