Cotie McMahon’s basketball accomplishments give her plenty to smile about. But long buzzer-beaters? Those bring out the big grin.
That’s how McMahon left the court at halftime Thursday night in Centerville’s 66-31 Division I tournament victory over Franklin. The Wildcats inbounded the ball with 3.1 seconds left, McMahon stole the ball, dribbled 10 feet past halfcourt and let it fly: three points and smiles all around for the Elks.
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“That was my first time … probably the last,” she said with a big smile.
McMahon, one of the top sophomores in Ohio, was already headed toward the locker room and was the first one inside.
“We were already having fun, but that shot just really set us off and just really made us get really hyped to finish out the game together,” she said. “And just have fun.”
The third-seeded Elks (16-8) were having fun with a 35-14 halftime lead. And McMahon, well, she was leading the fun with 16 first-quarter points and 23 for the half. She finished with 29.
“She had an amazing first half,” Centerville coach Adam Priefer said. “She took the ball to the basket, hit some jump shots, did a nice job of rebounding. The girls did a really good job of getting her the ball in the right areas to score. It was impressive.”
Next up for the Elks is another battle with fourth-seeded Springboro (19-5) at 6 p.m. Monday back at Troy High School. The Panthers defeated Vandalia Butler 68-28 Thursday behind 19 points from Jordan Hobbs and 10 from Jordan Crace.
In the first meeting on Jan. 11 at Centerville, the Panthers led by one at halftime. The Elks, however, dominated the third quarter to take a 10-point lead and won 63-55.
“It was a tough game,” McMahon said. “We had our student section cheering loud, so they’re definitely going to want to bounce back and come right at us. That’s just a game where we have to be ready to fight to the end.”
Recent history has belonged to the Elks. Last season the Elks won at Springboro by three in December. Then in the sectional final the Panthers led 50-33 entering the fourth quarter. The Elks scored 32 points in the fourth quarter and won 65-63 on Amy Velasco’s layup at the buzzer.
“They’ve got a solid eight or nine or 10 players, and then they have just two outstanding players,” Springboro coach Tom Benjamin said of McMahon and Velasco, who has committed to Bowling Green. “We have our work cut out for us, but this is where we wanted to be.”
Centerville played zone against Springboro the first time, which was something Benjamin did not expect. But he said his team has improved against the zone as the season has progressed, and the scoring has gotten more balanced. He’s been pleased with the defense from the start.
“We’re just going to have to play great defense, we’re going to have to make some shots,” Benjamin said. “If both of those things don’t happen, it’s going to be a tough night.”
McMahon and Velasco, a junior point guard who added 12 points, have led the Elks this season. Velasco scored 27 and McMahon 24 in the win over Springboro. But Priefer said freshman Kendal George and senior Emma Stanley have given the Elks more balance at times.
“We have the ability to win different ways,” he said. “It’s nice when Cotie and Amy go off together, but it’s real nice when we have three or four kids that are consistent. Hopefully we get that Monday.”
The winner moves on to a district final Feb. 29 at Cincinnati Princeton High School and will likely face Lakota West, a No. 2 seed.
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