By John Bombatch
LEBANON — It’s said that it’s difficult to beat the same team three times in one season. Well, undefeated Bellbrook may be an exception to that rule.
The second-seeded Bellbrook Golden Eagles charged out to a 44-16 halftime lead and rolled over Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division foe Monroe for the third time this season, winning 65-36, in first round Division II girls high school basketball tournament action at Lebanon High School.
Monroe players Maddy Wehry and Erica Thompson played for Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher this past summer on the Dayton Lady Hoopstars Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) youth basketball team. They came over to chat with their summer coach after the two teams left the locker rooms after Wednesday night’s game. The two Hornets marveled at Bellbrook center Gabby Ozoude’s size and strength.
“Man, she’s huge!” one of the Monroe players was overheard saying.
Ozoude, listed at 6-feet, 2-inches tall in the game program, led all scorers with 21 points, and 14 of those were scored in the first half. Bellbrook (22-0) showed balanced scoring from a trio of guards, and that kept Monroe’s defense from doubling or tripling up on Ozoude.
Stephanie Dorn scored 13 points while Cassidy Hofacker and Bekah Vine tossed in 12 points each for Bellbrook.
“I was just happy that our defensive intensity was where it has been, and we were causing a lot of turnovers. That’s good, that gets our offense going. Then again, we were hitting shots,” Tincher said. “Our three guards were really on tonight, and that really opens things up for our center. When Gabby Ozoude is able to maneuver inside and have some room in the paint, it’s really hard to defend us.”
In February road wins over Clarksville Clinton-Massie, Miamisburg and Brookville to close out the regular season, and now a neutral court win over Monroe, Ozoude has been averaging 21 points per game.
Bellbrook first defeated Monroe on the Hornets’ floor back on Dec. 19 by a 41-22 score. They then won the rematch in Bellbrook, 78-29. So, Wednesday night’s neutral court 29-point loss for the youthful Hornets was an improvement.
“They’re well-coached. They’ve got athletes. They’ve got every position. They’ve got shooters. They’ve got big people. It’s a really hard match-up for us,” second-year Hornet coach Chad Allen said of Bellbrook.
The twelfth-seeded Hornets finished with an 11-12 overall mark, but had won six of their final nine games heading into the postseason.
Sophie Sloneker and Jahsalyn Robinson led Monroe with nine points each, and Thompson finished with seven. The team’s lone senior, Kelstin Griffen finished her high school hoops career with a 3-point fourth quarter score.
Bellbrook returns to Lebanon High for second-round D-II sectional tournament play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, and they’ll face 11th seed Dayton Stivers School for the Arts.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.