VANDALIA — The last time the Beavercreek Beavers played for a district basketball title, Keaira Youngblood was still a pre-teen.
But the Beavercreek senior made sure that dry spell ended Feb. 25, leading her team to a stunning 56-44 win over New Carlisle Tecumseh in a Division I sectional final at Vandalia Butler High School. The scrappy guard scored a team-high 21 points and led a defensive charge that forced the Arrows — ranked sixth in the final state poll — into 21 turnovers.
“This is huge,” Youngblood said with an equally huge smile. “They knocked us out last year. That was our ultimate goal.”
Beavercreek gets a chance to knock off another state-ranked team as it takes on West Chester Lakota West at 5 p.m. March 4 in a district final at Princeton High School near Cincinnati. It’s the Beavers’ first appearance in the district since 2009 when they made it to the regional semifinal before losing to league foe Kettering Fairmont.
“It feels great,” Beavercreek coach Ed Zink said. “Heck of a win for our kids.”
It was a heck of a game.
There were 12 lead changes and the largest lead for either team through three quarters was six. Down 35-31 with 2:22 left in the third, Youngblood hit a three-pointer and then scored on a conventional three-point play giving the Beavers (17-8) the lead for good heading into the fourth. Cori Dilsavor scored on a three-point play to open the fourth, giving the Beavers a 40-35 lead and Tecumseh got no closer than three.
Beavercreek ended the game making 10 of 14 free throws in the final 2:02 as the Arrows (22-3) were forced to foul.
“To beat them is a compliment to our kids,” Zink said. “(Tecumseh) is a heck of a team. (Coach Danielle Thomas) does a great job with them.”
Tecumseh’s super sophomore Corinne Thomas scored a game-high 25 and went over 1,000 for her career, but she had little help. Fellow sophomore Presley Griffitts, who averaged 20 points and seven rebounds, was plagued with foul trouble. She sat out the final 6:23 of the first half and then fouled out with 5:38 left in the game after scoring just 12 points.
“We talked a little bit about that at halftime,” Zink said of Griffitts foul issue. “If Griffitts is in, go after her. That hurt them a lot. I feel bad that (she) had to sit out. But we had Lexi (Moore) sit out an awfully long time.”
Moore went to the bench with 3:31 left in the first after picking up her second foul and she picked up her third foul seconds into the second half after tying the game at 20-all, and had to sit again. But Youngblood scored 12 in the third quarter, including a pair three-pointers, and Bailey Draughn (nine points) added another three-pointer to help the Beavers.
“She took over there for a while,” Zink said of Youngblood.
Credit Dilsavor as well. She had an off-night shooting, scoring just four points, but she more than made up for that leading the offense against Tecumseh’s press. Beavercreek committed just 11 turnovers, and most came in the half-court offense.
“We did a very good job against the press,” Zink said.
Beavercreek turned the ball over once in the first quarter and led 12-8 heading into the second. Thomas and Griffitts each made buckets to start the second as Tecumseh took a 13-12 lead with 6:55 left. Tecumseh managed to build a 20-16 lead with 1:32 left and Griffitts on the bench, but Michaela Rhoades scored two of her six points to cut it to 20-18 at the half.
Carmen Williams made five of six free throws in the game’s final minutes and finished with eight points. Moore finished with seven.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.