On this night, the Firestone Falcons were the best girls basketball team in the City Series.
Kenmore established itself as the top team in the regular season with a perfect record, including defeating Firestone twice, but the Falcons rebounded to win the City Series playoff championship game 50-44 Wednesday at Buchtel.
Sophomore Darian Carter led the Falcons (14-7) with 16 points and 22 rebounds, both game highs.
“Wooo!” Carter said after celebrating with her teammates and cutting down the nets. “That is a career high in rebounds. Not in points, though. I had 18 in a game.”
Carter, a 5-foot-10 forward, wasn’t the only Falcons player giving the Cardinals (15-5) fits near the basket as senior Mishae Roper, a 5-foot-10 center, contributed eight points and 12 rebounds.
“I wasn’t able to play the second game,” Roper said. “I knew I was needed because I am a big piece to the team.
“Rebounding was a big part of this game. We knew if we could rebound, we could win the game. That is what we had to do. This is a big game for us against Kenmore. It is the championship.”
This is Firestone’s fourth consecutive City Series playoff title and record 12th overall.
Falcons senior guards Imani Scott, Brea Forney and Brooke Morgan also played key roles.
“I just knew that all four years came down to this,” Morgan said. “I was working toward this. I wanted to go out with a bang. I had won three in a row before and I was going for that last one. It just feels so good to finish strong with this fourth win.”
Kenmore senior guard Porshae Hearn was named the City Series Player of the Year before the game, but she struggled with her shot and finished with 13 points, five rebounds, five steals and four blocks.
“We missed too many free throws and we missed too many layups,” Kenmore coach Yontami Jones said after watching her team go 4-of-18 from the stripe. “This is one of the hardest moments in my coaching career. My team is young, though.”
Kenmore led 10-9 after one quarter, but Firestone rallied to lead 27-18 at halftime.
“I am just so happy,” Forney said. “We didn’t win the first two times. I am just happy that we got this one, the one that counts the most. We came together as a team and got this win.”
The Falcons extended their advantage to 39-22 after three quarters.
“Our girls played hard,” Firestone coach Audley McGill said. “They almost did what I wanted them to do. Sometimes they forgot that we have got to play within the confines of what we want to do. We could have done that in the other two games. They wanted to try it their way. Finally, they tried it my way, and it worked.”
Scott scored 12 points and Forney added 10 points. Both had four rebounds. Morgan scored four points. Carter, Scott, Forney and Morgan all had three steals.
“We are finally listening to coaching,” Scott said. “We finally came together as a team and had fun out there.”
Kenmore freshman Sarah Taylor (11 points, five rebounds, four steals) and junior Shannon Hall (10 points, seven rebounds, seven steals) also reached double figures.
This was McGill’s second game back after a bout with pneumonia that kept him out for three games. He credited assistants Reggie Floyd and Dave DiLauro for taking on a larger role. … Firestone out-rebounded Kenmore 61-44, but had more turnovers (31-25).
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or email@example.com. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.