VANDALIA — It’s not an official Beavercreek High School girls basketball game without stingy defense.
And the Feb. 26 sectional final against Centerville was more than legit. The top-seeded Beavers held No. 5 Centerville scoreless for six minutes in the first half and forced gobs of turnovers in a 48-38 shutdown of the Elks, who scored nearly 17 points below their average.
With their third win over Centerville this season, the Beavers advance to a Division-I district final for the second straight season, where they will play the winner of the Feb. 27 game between No. 3 Mason and No. 14 Ursuline. The final will take place Saturday, March 3 at Princeton High School in Cincinnati. The game time is yet to be determined.
“These kids defensively, they do such a great job,” Coach Ed Zink said. “When these teams score on us, they’re earning it.”
The Elks (17-8) didn’t earn much. After controlling the opening tip, it took them a minute to get a shot and bucket and another 3:30 to score another point. Centerville took an 8-7 lead with 1:33 left in the first and didn’t score again until the 3:33 mark of the second quarter.
“They work their tails off,” Zink said. “They’re so aggressive.” The Beavers forced 11 Centerville turnovers in building a 20-12 halftime lead, thanks to six points from Carmen Williams, who led all scorers with 12 points.
The Beavers weren’t exactly an advertisement for offensive efficiency, turning the ball over 10 times in the first half, but the defense more than made up for it.
Beavercreek (21-4) then methodically built a 13-point lead in the third behind a pair of baskets from Williams, a three-pointer from Lexi Moore and buckets from Alyssa Hall and Kirsten Williams, forcing a timeout from the Elks.
A nice floater from Centerville’s Alexis Hutchison cut the lead to 31-20, but Kirsten Williams drained a three-pointer and then Michaela Rhoades made a nice move for a layup to increase the lead to 36-20 with 1:05 left. The Elks cut it to 36-25 after three quarters but a Hall steal and layup increased the lead to 38-25 two minutes into the fourth and Centerville could get no closer than nine the rest of the game.
Kirsten Williams scored seven and Bailey Draughn added six for the balanced Beavers. Sam Chable led the Elks with 10 points.
In addition to the first-half spark, Carmen Williams scored several key points in the second half.
“I don’t really think much on offense,” she said. “I just play. Try not to force anything. If it’s an open look for a three, I’ll take it.”
Despite the likelihood of facing state-ranked Mason in the next game, Williams said she and her teammates relish the opportunity to go in as underdogs.
“We’re excited for that. We do have a lot to prove,” she said. “We don’t back down from any competition.”
Especially on defense.