HURON Despite a strong rally in the lightning round, Norwalk came up short in Wednesday's Firelands Challenge playoff.
The final score was Willard 52, Huron 50 and Norwalk 47.
Willard now advances to the championship round against Western Reserve and Edison.
Scores were knotted after the first round, but that changed quickly with the first question, in world history, in round two.
No team answered their questions on their first tries, but Huron stole two points (awarded after an appeal) and Willard answered its question on the second try. Huron pulled further ahead when it won the music toss-up, garnering a six-point lead over Norwalk, and a three-point lead over Willard.
Norwalk saw its chance to close the gap some when Willard missed its math question, but they were too eager and they buzzed in early, So Huron was given the opportunity to answer first, widening their lead. Norwalk was ready with the right answer, said Stephanie Rickel.
In the team choice section, each team chose foreign language they're the easiest questions, said Brian Kovach and Joe Leffler. They're always "basic vocab," Leffler said. Each team made their points.
Norwalk fell behind even further in round four in U.S. history. The questions were all about Martin Luther King Jr. Norwalk missed the question about which workers in Memphis struck, inspiring King to go there in solidarity. Norwalk answered "city workers" on its second try, and Willard tried "garbage workers."
The correct answer was "Memphis Sanitation workers," and both teams appealed the answer. The only black city workers in Memphis in 1962 were garbage workers, pointed out Kovach. The team found several references to "civil employees" in support of the appeal as well. But those arguments evidently did not find favor with the appeals committee, and Willard was awarded the points.
Norwalk then tried to steal a point by answering an art history question Huron missed, but "mobiles and stills" wasn't close enough to the correct answer "mobiles and stabiles" for the appeals committee.
Going into the lightning round, Willard trailed Huron by three, and Norwalk trailed Huron by 12.
"The team really rallied and I thought maybe we might pull it out," team adviser Sue Jump said.
The team effort shut out the leading Huron squad. James Gerken scored four points for the team, Rickel another four, and Kovach another one, closing the gap by nine points.
But Willard scored another five points, thanks to Christen Chaffins and Ethan Ehrman, bringing the Flashes into the lead.
That means it's the end of the road for this year's Norwalk team. It's also the end of the road for Jump, who's retiring this year after 29 years coaching the team.