AURORA -- With a late fourth quarter surge, the upstart Aurora High girls basketball team held off a late charge by Maple Heights to secure a 65-57 sectional final victory and move on to district action.
Sixth-seeded Aurora survived a scare to post the mild upset as the Lady Greenmen beat the third-seeded Mustangs (15-8) in the Euclid Division I sectional championship Feb. 23 at Maple Heights.
"The win against Maple was great. I thought we'd be able to play with them based on the films I had, but you really don't know until your team gets out there," explained Aurora head coach Erika Greenberg.
The Lady Greenmen, 18-6 overall, recently won their first league championship since 1927 and reaching district play is icing on the cake.
Aurora was to play in the semifinals against top-seeded Solon on Feb. 27, but final results weren't available for publication as of this writing. Check the Advocate's website for results.
In the final state poll, Solon (21-2) was ranked seventh and is led by 6-2 shot-blocking center Valencia Myers, lead guard and the program's all-time leading scorer Dee Bekelja, and 5-11 forward Alexis Stover, who is headed to Ohio University.
A deep Solon backcourt includes more talent in Gabby Mitchell and Mariah Modkins. Myers has Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio State, Rutgers and UCLA on the radar.
Solon is gunning for a third straight Final Four appearance. The district finals are set for March 2 at 7 p.m. at Euclid.
It's a Comet squad that lost on opening day to Indiana Lawrence North by 6 points and fell by 3 to Detroit Heritage during the holiday break.
"They are an excellent basketball team and we're really going to have to play well," said Greenberg the day before the game.
"Solon is relentless on defense, their full court pressure is very hard to simulate at our practice, plus they are very athletic and well coached," she added.
Early in the year, Solon beat Twinsburg by 22 points on its own court, but the Tigers had a sizeable lead early on. Second-seeded Twinsburg (19-5) met fourth-seeded Shaker Heights (12-11) in the other district semi Feb. 27.
The Canton Division I regional semifinals will be March 7 at the Canton Memorial Civic Center against the Canton Fieldhouse district champion at 8 p.m. The regional finals are March 10 at 7:30 p.m.
As for the sectional final win at Maple, Greenberg admitted it was a bit sloppy, but that also worked to Aurora's favor as well. The Mustangs seized the lead back from Aurora early in the fourth period.
"It was a very physical, sloppy game on our part; too many turnovers," Greenberg said. "We lead most of the way, but they took the lead. We really had to keep fighting for the win."
Senior forward-guard Syarra Sellers had some critical buckets late in the game to lead the Greenmen charge. "Syarra really came up with some huge offensive baskets for us to finish the game out," said Greenberg. "I am so proud of how our girls played."
Other key seniors for Aurora include guards Korie Hobbs and April Davis, and wing Sarah Marchese. Sophomore wing Shayla Sellers also has had a strong postseason.