COLUMBUS — For the second straight year, Toledo's City League will have a team in the Division I girls state basketball final.
The sixth-ranked Waite Indians (24-2) got a scare from unranked Kettering Fairmont (22-3), but held on down the stretch to take a 61-55 win tonight at Value City Arena.
Natasha Howard, who was named Ohio's Ms. Basketball Wednesday, topped the Indians with 22 points, but had to sit out for six crucial minutes after being called for her fourth foul with a minute left in the third quarter.
The Firebirds trimmed Waite's eight-point fourth-quarter lead at the 5:12 mark down to 56-55 with 2:20 to play, and later had a potential go-ahead 3-pointer rim out with 1:31 left.
But the Indians blanked the Firebirds down the stretch, and Howard's lay-up off an inbounds feed from senior guard Courtney Jackson wit 39 seconds to go gave Waite some breathing room.
Jackson and fellow senior guard Miriah Haynes added 12 points each.
Fairmont's Dayton-bound 6-2 senior post player Cassie Sant led all scorers with 25 points, and senior guard Holly Carey added 13 for the Firebirds.
Last season, City League champion Start advanced to the D-I state final before losing to Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, which won its fourth straight state crown and fifth in six years.
Waite will play Canton McKinley, which ousted Reynoldsburg 42-39 in overtime.