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Published: Thursday, 3/18/2010

Craft scores 23 as Liberty-Benton girls beat Smithville


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Caite Craft led a balanced Findlay Liberty-Benton attack with 23 points as the Eagles defeated Smithville 56-34 in a Division III semifinal Thursday at the Ohio girls basketball tournament.

Craft hit six of nine 3-pointers as Liberty-Benton (26-0) made seven from beyond the arc to give it 229 for the season, more that any other girls team in the state.

Amanda Hyde, an Associated Press first team All-Ohio selection, had 19 points and Amber Peterson added 11 for the Eagles, who play Middletown Madison (27-0) for the title Saturday. Neither school has won a championship.

Jenna Pew, also a first-team selection, led Smithville (25-2) with 18 points, two below her average.

Hyde and Craft were too much for Pew to overcome in a freewheeling first half. They had 13 points apiece to counter Pew's 10 as the Eagles took a 31-20 lead.

Craft was three of four from 3-point range and Liberty Benton four of 13 from beyond the arc through two quarters. Smithville made two of six 3-pointers but was done in by nine turnovers compared to four for Liberty-Benton.

The Eagles kept firing after halftime and increased the score to 42-23 heading into the fourth quarter with Craft hitting another trey. Smithville made one of five field-goal attempts and had seven turnovers in the third.

The Eagles made their second state appearance after losing in the semifinals to South Euclid Regina last year. Smithville made it to Columbus for the first time since 2004.

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