LEBANON — The fourth-seeded Bellbrook Golden Eagles played with aggression and plenty of intensity in a 55-40 Division II second-round sectional tournament win over No. 6 seed Alter, Feb. 20, at Lebanon High School.
The two teams traded the lead three times in the opening quarter, but then Bellbrook sandwiched 3-pointers from Maren Freudenschuss and Bailey Zerby around an inside Olivia Greathouse score to go on an 8-2 run and a 20-12 lead three minutes into the second quarter. Bellbrook never trailed again.
“It was a great matchup, because those two teams are going to be intense, where you’ve gotta match each other. I thought our girls came out with the right mindset, and they were very aggressive on offense and defense — which you have to be against an Alter team. They’re so good at the fundamentals and doing the little things right, we really needed to play a good game,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said.
When the Golden Eagles weren’t busy smothering Alter with a pesky full-court defense, they were enjoying a pretty balanced offensive attack.
Kayla Paul led Bellbrook with 13 points scored, and 12 of those points came in the second half. Maria Mescher scored 10 of her 11 points in the first half, Greathouse scored nine points, Zerby had all eight of her points in the first half, Freudenschuss finished with seven points, Dani Westbrock added four, Brooke Tincher scored two and Kendall Knisely hit a free throw in the win.
Tincher referred to Paul as his “Ironman” on the team.
“She’s extremely athletic. She runs well. She’s long. She gets her hands on the ball. She’s good putting her up front in our press. Defensively, she’s key for us, because she attacks the ball,” he said, “but she attacks the rim for rebounds offensively and gets some good shots off.
“And we don’t give her much of a break. Kayla’s one of our state cross country runners, so we’re using that to our advantage during basketball season.”
Bellbrook is now 14-10. They’ll take on Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern division foe Valley View, the tournament’s No. 2 seed, in the district semifinal game at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 in Lebanon. The Spartans and Golden Eagles each won on the other’s home floor during the regular season, but Bellbrook finished second in the division just ahead of Valley View.
“They’re having a good season as well. We split our games with them during the regular season, and it’s always a tough matchup with them,” Tincher said.
In the loss, senior guard Kourtney Klug led the Knights with 11 points, fellow senior Makayla Blount finished with nine points, while senior Kala Gillis and freshman Caraline Kernan finished with six each to lead Alter (13-11).