Rogers' Sasha Dailey, left, defends against Clyde's Breanne Michaels on Saturday. Dailey led the Rams with 20 points.
When it came right down to it, senior Sasha Dailey and her Rogers teammates simply wanted to avoid feeling the blues for another year.
With Dailey producing team highs of 20 points and eight rebounds, the Rams (22-4) took down fourth-ranked Clyde 52-44 in a Division II girls district basketball final Saturday in a packed gym at Perrysburg High School.
Last March, Rogers met a then top-ranked and unbeaten Clyde team in the regional championship game, and fell 61-53 to the Fliers.
That defeat — like the ones that had come against Lima Bath in the 2011 district final and 2012 regional semifinal — caused Dailey and her teammates to go into a mini depression.
“We didn’t want to lose,” Dailey said. “That feeling that we had — crying and being sad for weeks — we didn’t want to experience that again.”
Rogers will face Lima Bath at 8 p.m. Tuesday in a regional semifinal at Ohio Northern University. The Rams beat Bath in last year’s regional semifinal before losing to Clyde.
At the outset, this rematch with the Fliers (24-2) didn’t look promising for Rogers. Clyde jumped out to leads of 7-0 and 9-2, and at one point Rams coach Lamar Smith pulled Dailey to the bench for a little pep talk after she missed two layups, part of the Rams’ 0-for-9 start from the field.
That mental boost did the trick.
“Our girls were a little too hyped up,” Smith said. “They had to settle down. Once they settled down, things started coming our way. ...
“I told Sasha to settle down and let the game come to her. She’s our leader and she stepped up. I’m proud of her.”
Akienrah Johnson broke the ice for Rogers, scoring on an eight-foot runner with 3:50 left in the first quarter. Dailey followed with a 10-footer, then nailed a 3-pointer. Two Johnson free throws came next, then a bucket from sub Sydney Petty, and the Rams were back in the game, down 12-11.
Rogers took its first lead at 18-15 on Tatyana Reynolds 3-pointer with 5:05 left in the half, and the rest of the game was a tight back-and-forth battle.
“We just kept playing hard,” Dailey said of the early lull. “We didn’t let that get to us. We didn’t give up. We played all the way to the end and came out with a victory.”
The Rams had to survive the exploits of Clyde senior Amanda Cahill, who was Ohio’s D-II co-player of the year the past two seasons.
Cahill turned in game highs of 25 points and 17 rebounds, and hit 14 of her 17 free-throw attempts in the game, which featured seven lead changes.
When Keyanna Austin hit a 3-pointer with four seconds left in the third quarter, Rogers entered the fourth up 36-33. Clyde’s last lead came at 42-41 when Kelsey Michaels (nine points) came up with a steal and dribbled in for a layup with 4:09 remaining.
Rogers’ 6-foot-2 sophomore post player Keasja Peace went scoreless until the game’s final 1:38, then provided two clutch inside baskets and two free throws as the Rams pulled from a narrow 44-42 lead to victory.
“In crunch time you’ve got to make them,” Peace said. “It’s win or go home. I’m just proud of my team. All that hard work that we’ve done is paying off.”
Rogers, which also got 11 points from Johnson, was 20 of 54 (37 percent) from the field, 9 of 16 from the line, and forced 23 Clyde turnovers while committing 12.
The Fliers were 13 of 39 (33 percent) from the field, 15 of 22 at the line, and outrebounded Rogers 35-29.
“On paper, they’re the best team in Ohio, and I thought they did really good things down the stretch,” Clyde coach John Cahill said of Rogers. “... There were a couple of drives where maybe, if we get a call, we’re at the line and it changes the outcome of the game. But they kind of let ’em play, and I guess that’s what you want in a big game. I hope Rogers wins the whole thing. I’ll be rooting for them the whole way.”