TROY — Beavercreek had beaten Greater Western Ohio Conference foe Northmont once before this season, but the underdog Thunderbolts gave them a scare this time.
Ninth seeded Northmont trailed by 10 points, 20-30, at halftime, but an old-fashioned three-point play by Katie McCrary with 3:23 left in the third quarter pulled the ‘Bolts to within six points at 31-37.
Number 4 seeded Beavercreek never panicked, however. Instead, the Beavers went on a 15-5 run to take command of the game for an eventual 68-47 win, Feb. 19 in the second round of the Division I girls high school sectional basketball tournament at Troy High School.
“I was worried there, because Northmont’s a nice ballclub,” Beavercreek coach Ed Zink said. “We had the lead up to 12 points, maybe even 14, and they cut it to six. Our kids could’ve folded right there, but they didn’t. Instead, they took it right back up and extended the lead.
“We did a nice job of picking up our defense, we hit some shots and controlled things. We’ll take it. This is a very nice all-around win for our kids.”
A trio of Beavers players finished with double-figure scoring in the win. Alyssa Hargrove-Hall scored 11 of her game-high 19 points in the second half, Taylor Steinbrunner canned three 3-pointers as part of her 14-point effort, and Morgan Rhoades hit two threes as part of a 13-point game.
With the win, Beavercreek (15-9) heads to a sectional final matchup with another GWOC foe: Fairmont. The third seeded Firebirds defeated No. 10 seed Springfield by a 61-39 score earlier in the evening. Beavercreek and Fairmont will tip off at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 25 back in the Troy High School gym for the sectional title.
While Northmont coach Bethany Kincer felt her team played better than the team’s 51-40 home loss to the Beavers back on Jan. 19, she credited Beavercreek with a solid all-around win.
“We did have some moments where we played a lot better than we did when we saw them the first time, but they are an extremely tough team and they play extremely well together. They move the ball well, and they’re very disciplined defensively, and they have a legendary coach,” she said. “We cut the lead to six, and then they knocked down a few shots. We just couldn’t hit any shots of our own after that.”
Katie McCrary led Northmont (11-13) with nine points scored, seven of which came in the second half. Makayla Cooper and Camryn Nadir each finished with eight points, Amari Bradford and Shalaya Heath both scored six, Gabby Kline and Jacquel Bronaugh each added four points and Dasia Turner finished the season with two.
Kincer said the program will miss seniors Cooper and Heath.
“We’re definitely losing a lot with Makayla and Shay. They’re both four-year starters and they’ve been a blessing to this program and a blessing to coach. I wish them the best, and I know that they are going to be successful with whatever they do,” she said.
Beavercreek lost twice to division foe Fairmont during the regular season by 26 and 25 points, and Zink is well aware of that.
“It’s be a challenge for us. They handled us pretty easily both times, so we’ll have to find a way to play better against them,” he said. “But you know what? We’ll show up and we’ll give it a battle.”