Mississinawa magical season comes to end in Regional Semi-Finals

The Blackhawks overcame a slow start and had opportunities but in the end came up short in their quest to reach the Regional Finals. (Dale Barger photo)

VANDALIA – The Mississinawa Valley Lady Blackhawks bowed out of the OHSAA DIV regional tournament with a 40-37 loss to the Marion Local Lady Flyers.

Coming off the Lady Hawks’ first-ever District Championship title the Mississinawa Valley team struggled with first-quarter jitters as Marion Local challenged the Hawks physically in the early going with several blocks and tough shots.

The Flyers started the game hot, and the Blackhawks found themselves trailing 9-0 before MacKenzea Townsend knocked down a short baseline jumper at the 3:30 mark.  Brenna Price added two more points on an offensive rebound, but MV trailed by 10 at the end of the quarter.

“We came out nervous, I think the moment was a little big for us we definitely played nervous,” Mississinawa Valley coach Michael Paige stated.

Marion Local wouldn’t make it easy for the DIV Southwest District Player of the Year Taylee Woodbury to run the offense hounding her all night. (Dale Barger photo)

But as MV fans can attest, the Lady Hawks have trailed in a few games this year and in a few cases by even more points … but you knew they would eventually work their way back into the game and usually it started with defense.

The Blackhawks battled back doubling up the Lady Flyers in second period play 12-6 sending the teams to the break with Marion Local holding a 20-16 advantage.

In the first quarter MV was unable to utilize their full court pressure … but as they started to score the ball more in the 2nd quarter they were able to get into their press and then drop back into their zone press which began speeding Marion Local up.

Syenna Purdin drove the baseline and was able to get a lay-up to help get the Hawks rolling on offense. (Dale Barger photo)

Back-to-back buckets on a drive and lay-up by Syenna Purdin and a Lefthanded hook from Townsend closed the gap to 6, before the Flyers scored at the 5-minute leading 16-8.

Page Emerick hit two free throws followed by a steal and lay-up from Taylee Woodbury and two more free throws from Brooklynn Seubert drew the Hawks to 16-14 by 1:57 of the 2nd quarter bringing the large Mississinawa Valley crowd into the game.

Sophomore Brooklynn Seubert tries to split the double team. (Dale Barger photo)

Marion Local finished the half with two more scores and held a 20-16 lead at the break.

In the 3rd quarter Mississinawa made a concentrated effort to try and work the ball or drive into the paint as Marion Local feverishly hounded Taylee Woodbury and was determined to not allow her open shots or lanes to drive.

After a Townsend Free throw and a drive to the rim by senior Ingrid Ojeda, MV was within a point 20-19 at 6:30.

Senior Ingrid Ojeda scores a layup early in 3rd quarter. (Dale Barger photo)

Brooklynn Seubert then scored two in the paint to give Mississinawa their first lead of the night 23-22 at 4:32 and the student section and bench were rocking.

Trailing 26-24 and Marion Local looking to get the last shot of the 3rd quarter, Woodbury got a steal and was fouled at the buzzer going in for a lay-up and she “WouldBury” both tosses.

Taylee “WouldBury” 4 free throws late to keep the Hawks in striking distance. (Dale Barger photo)

Mississinawa Valley’s defense for the 2nd straight quarter held the Lady Flyers to 6 points winning the 3rd, 10-6 and the game was tied 26-26 heading into the final frame.

A 6’ Townsend left-handed shot in the paint knotted the score at 28-28 at 6:53 in the fourth quarter  … but Marion Local went on a 5-point burst to go ahead 33-28 at 5:21 prompting coach Paige to use a timeout.

MacKenzea Townsend scored 13 points but had to do it through physical play and double-teams. (Dale Barger photo)

The Hawks closed to the gap to 35-33 on another Townsend bucket inside with 1:55 to go but the Flyers answered, and time was beginning to slip away.

With 0:27 remaining on the game clock Taylee Woodbury hit a 12-foot jumper to make it a 37-35 game and now the Hawks if they couldn’t get a steal had to foul.

Marion Local guard and leading scorer this year Avae Unrast sank two free throws with .18 seconds for a 4-point lead.

Woodbury then pushed the ball up the floor and was fouled on a jumper and she would hit both tosses with 9 seconds left trailing 39-37.

Mississinawa again was forced to foul but timed burned away in the process as they sent Audrey Winner to the line.  She made the first but missed the second and off the rebound MV would heave a desperation shot to try and tie the game only it came up short giving Marion Local the 40-37 regional semi-final win.

It also would end a magical run and season for Mississinawa, one they have hungered and waited on for years and will be remembered for years with the accomplishment’s achieved by this team.

Coach Paige who was the District 9 coach of the year and recently named by the (OPSWA) Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association the Southwest District DIV coach of the year, was disappointed in the outcome but he’s thankful for the experience and achievements his team accomplished this year.

They finished the season 21-5 the most wins in a season for the girls’ basketball program. Western Ohio Athletic Conference League Runner-up, Sectional Champions, District Champions (1st in school history) and Regional Semi-Finalist.

Teams’ success generally leads to recognition for individual accomplishments and a number of Hawks received recognition.

Taylee Woodbury a junior point guard was named the WOAC “Player of the Year”, District 9 Coaches “Player of the Year” and the OPSWA DIV Southwest District “Player of the Year”.

Three Mississinawa Valley seniors played their final basketball game. Ingrid Ojeda; Brenna Price and MacKenzea Townsend.

Townsend stepped forward this year and was a towering enforcer in the paint averaging a double-double in scoring and rebounds.  She earns 1st team all WOAC, and 1st team District 9 and 3rd team All-Southwest District.

Brenna Price was the Swiss army knife of the team making a lot of plays that didn’t show up in the score book.  She earns 1st team all WOAC, 1st Team District 9 and 1st Team All-Southwest District.

Ingrid Ojeda was the energy and disruptive force spearheading the Hawks defense and hit a few big baskets during the season.  She was named WOAC Special Mention.

“It’s hard to say goodbye to our seniors, our team is a family and so you know, losing any part of that is hard for us. Our seniors are a big part of our team. Kenzie, Brenna Ingrid they’re all a huge part of our team and what we have accomplished here,” Paige praised.

The 3 seniors were a big part of building the Hawks success … but Mississinawa has plans to continue and build upon that success with returning talent and kids waiting their turn.

Returning from the varsity squad will be Syenna Purdin, Taylee Woodbury, Paige Emrick Brooklynn Seubert who all had an outstanding year.

“We’ll build off this season, we’ve got a lot of young talent I mean, we got the twins Cora and Makenna Hoggatt, Gretchen Rodeheffer and Lilly Geesman, we got some girls that can absolutely play and we’re ready to get right back at it,” Paige concluded.

The 2023-24 season is in the books, but this team will be remembered by how they captured the heart of the community while inspiring younger girls who will want to become the next MacKenzea Townsend, Brenna Price or Taylee Woodbury while also wanting to experience being on a team that won a District Title.

Congratulation Mississinawa on a fantastic season.


MARION LOCAL – A. Dirksen 17, M. Eckstein 8, A. Unrast 7, A. Winner 6, N. Eckstein 2 – TOTALS 12 13-15 1 40

MISSISSINAWA VALLEY – K. Townsend 13, T. Woodbury 8, S. Purdin 5, B. Seubert 5, I. Ojeda 2, B. Price 2, P. Emrick 2 – TOTALS 12 13-16 0 37

Marion Local 1 (A. Dirksen 1)
Mississinawa Valley 0

14-06-06-14 40 Marion Local
04-12-10-11 37 Mississinawa Valley

The Mississinawa Valley Student Section was all in for their team throughout the tournament. (Dale Barger photo)