BROOKVILLE —A pair of Metro Buckeye Conference teams played back-to-back games on Saturday, Feb. 18. A sickly bunch of Yellow Springs Bulldogs won, and a possibly healthier Xenia Legacy Christian bunch didn’t, in girls basketball first-round sectional tournament action Saturday, Feb. 18 at Brookville High School.
With two of his three top players feeling woozy with flu-like symptoms Yellow Springs coach Tim Minnich pulled senior scoring machine Elizabeth Smith aside before the game and told her to shoot the ball, and then shoot some more. Despite leading everyone with a game-high 23 points, it was Smith’s conversion on three of her final six free throw tries that ultimately made the difference in Saturday’s 42-40 win over Bradford.
Yellow Springs (13-10) went to the charity stripe 15 times in the fourth quarter — Smith shot 13 of them, and hit four.
“I just told her ‘Listen, you’re the best player out there on the court,’” Minnich explained. “The first couple minutes of the game, she was giving the ball up to her teammates, and I called timeout. I said ‘Look, you’ve gotta get enough shots. Morgan (Minnich) is sick; Julian (Roberts) is not feeling well. (Bradford’s) post players are dominating us on the glass, so you have to get us everything.’”
And so Smith dutifully went out and accounted for almost 55 percent of the team’s points.
Despite their illnesses, Minnich and Roberts combined for 11 much-needed points, a healthy Amani Wagner scored six of her seven points in the second half, and Ayanna Madison snared some key rebounds and scored a free throw.
Bradford’s Brooke Fair hit a jumper from the left side to pull the Railroaders within one point of the Bulldogs at 41-40, with less than 40 seconds left in the game, but they couldn’t get the lead.
Smith hit the second of her final set of free throws with 21.5 seconds left to play, Bradford scoring threat Mandi Bates missed a 3-point try and then fouled out while trying to get the rebound with 8.7 seconds left, then Bradford’s leading scorer of the game, Chelsea Gill, missed a nearly half-court desperation shot as time expired.
“I just knew we had to gut it out and do our best to score in transition. We threw a junk defense at Bates, and kept her under her scoring average, and we were just going to live or die taking our chances with the other Bradford players scoring against us,” Minnich said.
Gill led the Railroaders with 14 points, Bates was next with 12 points, and Fair finished with 10.
Knights fall to Franklin-Monroe: In the Legacy Christian contest, the Knights got off to a sickly four-point start in the first quarter and fell behind 12-4 as a result. By halftime, Franklin-Monroe had doubled up LCA, 22-11.
Legacy outscored the Jets 20-11 in the second half, but single free throws by Corina Conley and Audrey Cable in the game’s final 19 seconds were enough to earn F-M a narrow 33-31 win.
Emily Riddle led LCA (16-8) with 13 points scored while senior Rachel Sweeney finished her basketball career with a 10-point afternoon. Sweeney, Victoria Howarah (four points) and the injured Ariana Nelson were seniors for the Knights this season.
“We needed to be who we were all year, and we just were not that kind of basketball team in the first half,” LCA coach Mark Combs said. “But that’s what tournament basketball can do to you. You’re on a bigger floor, it’s a bigger stage. … I never felt like we were out of the game, though, because I know the kids I’ve got. They were a fun bunch to coach.”
Yellow Springs continues its postseason run against South Charleston Southeastern, at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22 also at Brookville High.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext., 2123.