NIAGARA FALLS, NY — 5 seed Ohio delivered the third seeding upset of first-day action at the North Central playoffs, playing a thriller against 4 seed Arch Rival in the quarterfinals. Strong jamming performances from The Smacktivist, Phoenix Bunz and Kitty Liquorbottom — along with more than a little help from Arch Rival jammers consistently squandering power jam advantages by following Ohio jammers into the box — lifted Ohio to a 10 point victory, 142-132.
Ohio’s victory put them in the semifinals just one year after entering the tournament as the bottom seed.
The first jam was a rather brutal full length battle, as May Require Stitches and Eli Wallop were all over Ohio jammer HellionBOI and kept her in pack for a full two minutes, but Arch Rivals’ Mighty Mighty Boston could only get 5 points out of it. A second-jam power jam for Ohio temporarily switched the lead, as Phoenix Bunz took 15-0, but jam 3 looked much like jam 1, as Ohio jammer Kitty Liquorbottom was completely bottled up behind more standout work from the Stitches / Wallop combo. Downtown Dallis picked up 10 and it was all tied up at 15 after three.
By jam 4 it was very clear the teams were well matched as it took over a minute for either jammer to break pack, with Ohio’s Phoenix Bunz shining in solo blocking work against South City Shiner. SCS finally got lead and took 5 to put Arch Rival in front for the first time at 20-15 with 20 minutes in the first half.
Ohio took lead on the next but both lost the jam 3-0 and lost their jammer Pippi Ripyourstockings on a last-second back block; fortunately for Ohio, the power jam would switch as Black Market Baby was boxed. It ended as a 13-8 win to Arch Rival, and they added 3-1 on the next. With about 15 minutes in the half, ARRG led 39-28.
Things temporarily unraveled for Ohio for most of the rest of the half. Arch Rival’s Grave Danger and the ubiquitous May Require Stitches ground down on HellionBOI; that jam went 18-0 to Arch Rival and Ohio was lucky it wasn’t more, as HellionBOI was boxed late in the jam but Mighty Mighty Boston followed her in almost immediately. That set the score at 57-28 with about 11 minutes to go.
Scoring slowed for a bit there — Ohio picked up lead jammer status for three jams in a row, but the 0-0, 4-0, 0-0 sequence barely favored them on the scoreboard, and a 4-0 for Mighty Mighty Boston next kept it a 29 point game at 61-32. Two jams later, a crowd-displeasing major back block call sent Ohio’s HellionBOI to the box — but for the third time in a row, Arch Rival would throw Ohio a lifeline by committing a jammer penalty of their own to flip the power jam. When it ended, though, Arch Rival was still slowly increasing their lead, up 75-39 with 3:41 on the first-half clock.
Things got a little strange in Ohio’s favor on the last two jams of the half. First off, Arch Rival was on the wrong side of a unique power jam when Science Friction, the Arch Rival pivot, received an insubordination major call while she was receiving a star pass from South City Shiner. Science dropped the star on the track on her way to the box, where it would remain for the rest of the jam, and South City Shiner would eventually be boxed herself as the legal jammer. Ohio’s Kitty Liquorbottom racked up 19 on that one to make it 75-58, and the next jam started with South City Shiner sitting in the box as Arch Rival’s jammer. That went 15-5 Ohio, and ended the half at a suddenly close 80-73 favoring Arch Rival.
Ohio started the second half with The Smacktavist in the box as jammer, but Arch Rival completely missed her exit from the box, allowing her to take a crowd-pleasing sneaky run up the outside for lead jammer. That jam very quickly went pear-shaped for Arch Rival as they completely filled their box and the Smacktavist took 20-0, gave Ohio the lead at 93-80 and froze Mighty Mighty Boston in the box. Ohio added 4-0 on each of the next two jams, and Ohio was suddenly on a half-spanning 62-5 run, leading 101-80.
Though Arch Rival finally got on the board with a 3-0 next, those were their only points of the first ten minutes of the half. With 20 minutes to play, Ohio led 109-83. Arch Rival nicked away very slowly at that margin; with 14 minutes left they’d narrowed it to a 20 point game at 111-91.
Ohio committed their first jammer penalty of the half there, but for the fourth time in the game, Arch Rival’s jammer followed Ohio’s into the box. What looked like an opportunity for Arch Rival suddenly became trouble as ARRG jammer Mighty Mighty Boston was sent right back to the box after the power jam switch. After that musical chairs ended, Ohio was still up by 20 at 116-96, but added 10-0 on the other side of the power jam to lead 126-96 with ten minutes left in the game.
Ohio caught a particularly bad break next, though, as Kitty Liquorbottom skated out of bounds to avoid a major back block against an Arch Rival wall but ended up being boxed on a 4th minor for intentionally skating out of bounds. That led to a 10-0 for Arch Rival and left South City Shiner setting up for the next jam unopposed and facing just two Ohio blockers on the track.
But for a fatal fifth time, Arch Rival committed a jammer penalty while Ohio had their jammer boxed. Kitty came out of the box and picked up some key points for Ohio — and South City Shiner went back to the box on a major back block when she was released. It was 130-116 Ohio with about 6 minutes to play. The Smacktavist used the remainder of the power jam to take 12-4, leaving it 142-120 Ohio. Arch Rival called their second timeout there, looking at a 22 point deficit with 4:25 to play.
They almost made it. Arch Rival’s Downtown Dallis took a 5-0 with the help of Eli Wallop walloping Ohio jammer Pippi Ripyourstockings, and Mighty Mighty Boston kept the Arch Rival rally going with a quick lead call and lap of Kitty Liquorbottom on her way to a 7-0. That made it a 10 point game at 142-132 Ohio with just about a minute to play.
Black Market Baby went up against the Smacktavist in the critical jam — clutch blocking from Bratislava Bruiser and Pippi Ripyourstockings kept BMB in the back of the pack long enough for the Smacktavist to claim the game-sealing lead jam call. She’d wait out the clock and call at 0-0 when period time expired, kicking off an explosive celebration from the heavy Ohio contingent of fans.
Ohio advances to the semifinals and will play Windy City at 2pm tomorrow; Arch Rival will head to the consolation rounds to play Cincinnati.