SPRINGFIELD — Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher provided plenty of pre-game motivation for his Golden Eagles before Tuesday’s Division II regional semifinal girls high school basketball matchup with Franklin.
Tincher told the team about what it was like the last time Bellbrook had reached the Final Four back in 2012. He knows that this year’s team has the talent and ability to get them back to Columbus this season.
He told of how Franklin junior Layne Ferrell hasn’t finished with single-digit scoring in a game for 50-straight games, since she was a sophomore and was held to just two points in a narrow road win over Eaton. He knew Bellbrook had to do its best to shut down the Southwestern Buckeye League’s scoring leader, if they wanted to have any hope of playing for a regional championship later this week.
Bellbrook ended Farrell’s streak (limiting the scoring phenom to eight points) and handed the Wildcats a 42-27 loss in front of a rowdy crowd at Springfield High School to get its shot at claiming a regional crown.
Tincher gave seniors Cassidy Hofacker and Bekah Vine the unenviable task of trying to shut down — or at least persistently pester — Ferrell for four quarters of play. Ferrell led the SWBL with a 23.5 points per game scoring average, but the Golden Eagles defense gave her fits for much of the contest.
“Mainly, the key was just stopping their best player, Layne Ferrell, helping on the rest of them, and not letting them get threes,” Hofacker who led everybody in scoring with 13 points, said. “I was just like ‘There’s no way that she’s scoring on me. There’s no way that we’re losing this game.’”
Brooklynn Hall tossed in eight points for the Golden Eagles, Siera Ferguson scored seven, Maren Freudenschuss scored five, Olivia Greathouse knocked in four points, Kayla Paul added three and Vine finished with two in the win.
Vine limited Ferrell to seven points in the first half; Hofacker held her to one converted free throw in the second. It’s just the fifth time in Ferrell’s career where the 6-foot-1 guard has scored less than 10 points in a game.
“(Franklin coach John Rossi Jr.) and I are buddies, and he would tell you the same thing. His kids have made unbelieveable strides as a unit. They were playing with a great deal of confidence, so we just tried to focus playing defense and doing what we do well, tried to play our game. We’re playing well, too,” Tincher said.
“I’m just glad the game’s over. It’s a league school. John’s a buddy of mine. We’re both having extraordinary years. It’s a shame that one of us had to go home.”
Farrell and Jordan Rogers (the freshman who ended Carroll’s season with a 3-pointer in triple overtime on March 2) both finished with a team-high eight points. Franklin ends its season at 19-7 and will return its top-7 scorers next season.
Bellbrook advances to take on Tippecanoe in the regional final. The Red Devils defeated Bloom-Carroll, 50-28, in the late game. Friday’s March 9 regional final contest is set for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff at Springfield High. Tippecanoe finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in the final Associated Press Division II girls high school basketball poll.
Friday’s winner will advance to the state semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday, March 16 against either Akron St. Vincent St. Mary (a 50-47 upset winner Tuesday night over No. 1-ranked Beloit West Branch) or third-ranked Gates Mills Gilmour Academy.