Bellbrook rallies around 4-year starting guards

Listing at 8-7 midway through the girls basketball season, Bellbrook rallied around seniors Cassidy Hofacker and Bekah Vine and has landed in a state final four.

“They’re two of the most competitive kids a coach could want to coach,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said earlier this week. “When it’s been crunch time the last half of the season, they’ve been doing their best to lead this team and leave their mark on the program.”

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Bellbrook will join Midwest Athletic Conference reps Versailles and Minster in the season-ending state tournaments this week at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus.

Minster (24-3) is up first, playing Waterford (26-1) in a Division IV state semifinal at 3 p.m. Thursday. Versailles (27-1) gets Elyria Catholic (22-5) in the D-III opener at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Bellbrook (20-8) will play Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (24-3) in the D-II opener at 1 p.m. Friday. All the semifinal winners advance to Saturday’s state finals.

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Both Hofacker and Vine are exceptional four-year starters at guard. Hofacker led the Eagles in scoring (11.8) and has surpassed 1,000 career points. Vine (10.7) is an All-Ohio goalie and has signed to play that sport at Liberty University.

Bellbrook enters the final four on a 12-1 run that includes a 47-41 takedown of Tippecanoe in a regional final. This is the third time Bellbrook has advanced this deep into the postseason, joining the 2012 team and the 1976 Class AA state runner-ups, the first season for a girls tournament.

»RELATED: Girls state final four pairings/results

• Minster has undergone a successful coaching swap. Mike Wiss is in his second season as head coach. Prior to that he was an assistant for 20 years to Nann Stechschulte. She has returned to be an assistant this season.

“It’s only 18 inches in the width of the seat from the assistant coach to the head coach,” Wiss said, “but there’s a lot more stuff that goes with those 18 inches, I can tell you that.”

This is the fourth final four appearance for Minster and first since 2010. Minster won girls state titles in 2004 and 1998.

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• Versailles had a late start to its season because eight Tigers played on the state championship volleyball team. It didn’t hurt that Versailles was bolstered by multiple levels of state championship experience.

“That works in our favor,” Versailles coach Jacki Stonebraker said. “Our girls have been very successful the past couple of years in many sports. We’re excited to be able to compete at that level.”

This is the seventh final four the Tigers have appeared in since 2008. Versailles won state titles in 2015 and ’08 and was a runner-up last season.

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• Tippecanoe senior Maddie Frederick was named the All-Ohio D-II co-player of the year by the Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association on Tuesday. The 6-foot senior move-in from Arizona averaged a team-high 15.8 points and was a key reason why Tipp (25-3) advanced to a regional final. She has signed with Iowa State University.

Joining Frederick on the D-II first team was Trotwood-Madison senior Shai McGruder. The 6-1 transfer from Wayne averaged 25.9 points for the Rams (21-3) and signed with New Mexico State. Valley View senior Hunter Stidham was a D-II second-team pick and Franklin junior Layne Ferrell landed on the third team.

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In D-I, Wilmington junior Mya Jackson was a second-team selection. Springfield senior Jordan Diehl and Tecumseh junior Corinne Thomas were both named to the third team.

Players were nominated by coaches and voted on by district media panels and reps.

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Girls state semifinals at OSU

D-IV: Minster (24-3) vs. Waterford (26-1), 3 p.m.

D-III: Versailles (27-1) vs. Elyria Catholic (22-5), 6 p.m.

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