Girls basketball: Bellbrook makes its case for top seed in Division I tourney

Jason Tincher knew he needed to give his Bellbrook girls basketball team the opportunity to build a resume this season to earn a No. 1 seed in Division I. Just winning a lot in the Southwestern Buckeye League as one of only two Division I teams wouldn’t be enough.

As a newcomer to Division I last year, the Golden Eagles built some equity. They were a No. 3 seed and became the first team outside of the Greater Western Ohio Conference since Tecumseh in 2016 to advance to one of the three district finals at Cincinnati Princeton High School.

But that was last year. So Tincher, with every starter returning, scheduled Beavercreek, Wayne and Springboro, three of the top GWOC teams, and beat them all. The one that perhaps clinched the No. 1 seed that will be voted on by coaches this weekend, came Monday night in a 54-46 victory over Springboro (11-7), which leads the GWOC at 10-1.

“Last night’s game was vital because we needed to keep proving ourselves with a win over Springboro,” Tincher said. “I don’t know what else we could have done to get a one seed. You’re just trying to get yourself the best position on a bracket to get you to Cincinnati.”

The Golden Eagles (15-2) lost to Connor, Ky., 48-43, in a Thanksgiving weekend event at Lakota West and on a buzzer beater to SWBL rival Waynesville (17-2), a team that will be one of the top seeds in Division II. They have a second game with Waynesville and a trip to Mason (16-1) to play the state’s top-ranked Division I team in this week’s Associated Press poll.

“You do have to earn some respect,” said Tincher, who is in his 19th year and led the Eagles to the Division II state tournaments in 2012 and 2018. “People are like, ‘Well, how good are they?’ That’s natural. We’ve just got to keep proving that we belong, and that’s where I want to take the program.”

With most other teams not playing Monday night, Tincher said a number of coaches were in the crowd from the GWOC and Miami Valley League. Most of the teams in the northern portion of the Southwest District play in those two leagues.

“Everybody’s trying to figure out tournament seedings, and they probably wanted to see us in person and try and figure out what bracket they’re going to go in,” Tincher said.

As teams follow the top seed in placing themselves on the bracket, they usually try to avoid having to face the No. 1 seed in the sectional rounds. If Bellbrook is that team, it will be because of their resume and their experience.

The Golden Eagles are led by Taylor Scohy (16.8 points per game), Ashley Frantz (10.1), Alayna Myer (9.46.7), Kelly Griffin (6.7 assists) and Olivia Trusty (6.6 rebounds).

“They’ve played together for so long that they’ve been battle tested,” Tincher said. “With the experience, the leadership they bring in practice, they know what our expectation levels are and where we want to go.”

Springboro, Centerville (13-5), Beavercreek (12-6), Fairmont (14-4), Wayne (12-7) and Sidney (14-4 and 14-0 MVL) are competing for other top seeds.

In Division II, defending state champion Alter (15-3), ranked No. 1 in the state, is in line to be the top seed. The Knights lost to Hamilton Badin on Monday for their first GCL-Coed loss.

Waynesville, Tecumseh (16-4), which dropped down from Division I this year, and Tippecanoe (12-6) are in line for high seeds.

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