There’s a bonus intangible to Centerville’s girls basketball postseason success. Balanced scoring and shut-down defense have been an Elks’ staple. It’s what doesn’t show up in a score book that has become a difference-maker.
“A lot of it is based on trust,” sophomore guard Amy Velasco said after scoring a game-high 15 points in Wednesday’s 54-39 elimination of Cincinnati Walnut Hills in a Division I regional semifinal at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
“We trust each other and we love playing together. We just don’t want it to end. We play so much better because we are so close and bonded on and off the court.”
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The win launches Centerville (25-2) into Saturday’s D-I high school regional final in a rematch against Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame (24-2) at noon at Trent. MND defeated Cincinnati Mercy McAuley 56-48 in Wednesday’s doubleheader opener. Saturday’s regional winner advances to next week’s D-I state final four at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Centerville won at MND 70-56 on Jan. 14 in the regular season. The Elks will be seeking their first final four appearance.
That will be the first of two Centerville games on Saturday. The Centerville (20-5) boys will play Mason (18-4) at the University of Dayton Arena at 3 p.m. in one of four D-I district finals.
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Centerville senior Alexis Hutchison added 12 points and freshman Cotie McMahon 11 in another dominating but abbreviated playoff performance.
McMahon, who scored 31 points in a district final knockout of Lakota West, sat out most of the second quarter with two personal fouls. No matter; the Elks held the Eagles to 11 first-half points and made it a rout in the second half.
McMahon added nine rebounds and Velasco five assists. Miami University signee Kennedi Myles, a 6-foot-2 inside enforcer, led Walnut Hills (25-2) with 12 points and 14 rebounds. It was the only loss to an Ohio team for Walnut Hills, which also lost to Indiana 4A (big school) defending state champ Warren Central.
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Walnut Hills coach Adam Lazar saluted Centerville’s win, but also said “we weren’t given a fair shot. I know this is going to cost me and I don’t care. We attacked the rim 100 percent of the time and did not get the foul calls we should have.”
Centerville converted 17 of 25 free throws. Walnut Hills was 4 of 17 at the line and hit one of 17 three-pointers.
“It just wasn’t our night,” conceded Lazar, “especially putting the ball in the basket.”
This is the fifth regional for Centerville. The Elks gained a bit of revenge by defeating West at Princeton. It was West that eliminated Centerville in a 2014 D-I regional, 69-58.
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The Elks were 26-2 in the 2012-13 season and both those losses were to Greater Western Ohio Conference rival Fairmont, including a regional final at Wright State. Fairmont won the D-I state title that season.
Centerville also fell 42-22 to unbeaten and eventual D-I state runner-up Chaminade Julienne in a 2004 regional semi at WSU. Centerville made its first regional appearance in 1985, losing to Cincinnati Forest Park 51-36 at Middletown.
“The kids are playing with a lot of confidence and they believe in one another,” Centerville coach Adam Priefer said. “The team chemistry is really good. They actually enjoy and care about and play for each other. It’s great.”
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»» GIRLS HOOP: Carroll, Franklin, Valley View sweep
• Area girls basketball is assured of a rep in next week’s D-II state final four. That’s because Carroll (25-2) of the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North will play Southwestern Buckeye League power Franklin (22-4) in a D-II regional final at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Springfield High School.
The teams did not play in the regular season and have just one common opponent, Valley View. That’s significant since Carroll defeated Valley View 50-45 in late December. Franklin defeated Valley View 47-39 in overtime in Tuesday’s regional semi, the Wildcats’ third defeat of the Spartans.
»» RELATED: All-Southwestern District teams
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This is a rematch of last season’s D-II regional semi, when Franklin bounced Carroll 53-51 in three OTs. Franklin was throttled by Bellbrook 42-27 in that regional final.
Franklin is on a 13-1 run, losing only by two at unbeaten Waynesville. Carroll has won 10 of its last 11 games, losing only to Minster.
• There are four area teams among six in a D-IV boys district final tripleheader at UD Arena on Friday. Fort Loramie (18-7) of the Shelby County Athletic League opens vs. Cincinnati Christian (20-5) at 5:30 p.m. Next up is Franklin Monroe (15-9) and its Southwest District player of the year Ethan Conley vs. Jackson Center (20-5), another SCAL team, at 7:30 p.m.
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Springfield Catholic Central (21-3) of the Ohio Heritage Conference is matched against New Miami (16-9) in the 9:30 p.m. finale.
Those three winners will join a Midwest Athletic Conference rep out of the Wapakoneta district in next week’s D-IV regional at Trent. That also will be decided Friday when MAC rivals St. Henry (21-3) and Marion Local (17-7) play at 7 p.m. at Wapak. The teams split two regular-season games.
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