TROY — Beavercreek knew which five players to guard. Those five showed themselves to be a formidable group to stop.
Sidney grabbed an early lead and never relinquished it on the way to a 58-47 win against the Lady Beavers in sectional tournament play at Troy High School on Wednesday.
“I think we’ve been a pretty good defensive team all year between boxing out and rebounding, but they were able to get a couple 50-50 balls and some second chances,” Beavercreek head coach Aric Seilhamer said. “You have to give them a lot of credit only playing five kids with no seniors and have the ability to stay focused and play that hard the whole time.”
Beavercreek’s only lead came at 3-0 before Sidney’s patience on offense overwhelmed its defense.
The score was as close as 20-17 midway through the second quarter before a 9-0 run for Sidney opened up its lead. The Yellow Jackets, the No. 5-seed and MVL champions, routinely were able to dribble around the perimeter and wait for an opening to attack the basket or pass out to the perimeter to start over.
“That’s a tough team to come back against because they spread you out and handle the ball well,” Seilhamer said. “The goal after halftime was to get it within three or four into the fourth quarter to have a chance.”
Trailing by eight at halftime, the Lady Beavers were not able to get the deficit under 10 for the majority of the second half. A defensive third quarter saw both teams combined to only make three shots from the field.
Scoring by both teams opened up during the fourth as Beavercreek applied full court pressure. Sidney calmly handled the situation and made 11 free throws in the final quarter to keep a late Beavercreek charge at bay.
Maci Rhoades led Beavercreek with 14 points in her final game as a senior. Lilli Leopard had 10 and Liv Walther scored nine.
Beavercreek finishes its season 15-9 with a third-place finish in the GWOC regular season. Seilhamer’s first-year as head coach ended with a positive experience, he said.
“I just thanked all the kids and told him how much I appreciated them for how hard they played,” he said. “Being the first year following coach Zink, there was some rough moments but the kids never wavered on their teammates and gave their full effort. I have to thank them and tell them I love them for that.”
Sidney advances to face Bellbrook in the sectional final.
Bellbrook 57, Franklin 32
A sloppy fourth-quarter didn’t overshadow a dominant performance by one of the state’s top ranked teams in D-I.
Bellbrook made five three-pointers in the opening quarter and cruised to a 57-32 win over Franklin.
The Golden Eagles were outscored though in the final eight minutes and only scored four points. There’s no concern about it, head coach Jason Tincher said.
“We got up a lot early and I didn’t necessarily want a running clock,” he said. “I liked to get some kids in and I think they wanted to get some kids in. We got to play the whole game and got kids some time they don’t necessarily get to play as much.
“Moving forward it gets harder to give those kids some time because we get to championship type games and the bench becomes a little more limited.”
Bellbrook, seeded No. 3 in the sectional, did rotate in the entire bench throughout both halves for the second straight tournament game and showed off depth it could need later.
It also got out to a much better start this time. After Piqua stayed close on Saturday, Franklin had much more trouble keeping up with the Golden Eagles as they built a 23-3 lead heading into the second quarter.
“I was just happy that we came out and defended really well and shot the ball extremely well and that tells me that they were focused and ready to play,” Tincher said. “We had a history with Franklin already having played them a couple times and it really could’ve been easy to lose focus and it was a good sign of their maturity that they know they need to keep getting better every chance.”
Alayna Meyer connected four times from deep to lead the team with 12 points. Ashley Frantz and Taylor Scohy had 11, respectively. Braleigh Flynn, Eva Koesters and Willow Forscha also got on the board to lead the bench effort.
Prior to the win, Tincher received a glimpse of and had high compliments of his team’s next opponent for its quickness and tenacity.
“They don’t have a ton of size, but without it they play the game extremely hard,” he said of Sidney. “I don’t think there’s a time they really relax. It’s 94-feet of basketball.
“I think they’re good at all five positions. There really isn’t much of a weakness there and people say they’re young, but they play older than they are and a really pretty sound basketball game from what I’ve seen. They had a great season as well and we’re going to need to play a great game on both sides.”
Sidney and Bellbrook will play on Monday tipping approximately around 7:30 p.m. back at Troy HS. Ranked No. 8 in the final Ohio AP state rankings released on Tuesday, the upcoming game will be the first chance at making the district final round since 2019 for Bellbrook.
“The anticipation of a sectional championship game, it’s been a while since we’ve been there,” Tincher said. “We were in Division-II forever and then the last couple years we’ve had early exits. We just wanted to fight our way back to the championship game which we’re there now.”