Ten minutes after Saturday night’s net-cutting ceremony, Frankie Fife and some of her Greeneview teammates were posing with the net, hanging it around their necks and taking pictures.
On the last night of the regular season, this was a victory the Rams wanted to savor.
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They had just blown out rival Cedarville 65-36 to win the Ohio Heritage Conference South Division championship. Cedarville was the defending champion and the teams came into the game with identical 14-1 league records. And Cedarville defeated Greeneview 51-44 in December.
“This means the world,” Fife said. “Definitely a revenge game from the last Cedarville game. We were 10 times more motivated — the seniors especially. We did not like getting beat that first time, and we were definitely not going to let them beat us on our home court.”
Rams coach Tim Hoelle said, “I would say this is our best game overall this season.”
The Rams (20-2) did it with an offense that converted driving layups and knocked down 3-pointers that put them in control in the second quarter after Cedarville’s best run of the night. Ise Bolender scored nine points in 1:08 to cut the Rams’ lead to 20-15.
The Rams answered with four 3-pointers in an 18-2 run to close the half for a 38-17 lead. The lead reached 31 twice in the second half.
“They hit shots and we didn’t,” Cedarville coach Josh Mason said. “That’s really the biggest thing in the game.”
Bolender led the Indians with 19 points, but only three others scored against the Rams’ 2-3 zone defense. The zone became part of the Rams’ repertoire when leading scorer Faith Strickle missed nine games with an injury. She came back five games ago and the Rams have played more man-to-man since.
“I did not anticipate him running the 2-3 that long, and he did,” Mason said. “Kudos to those girls. Greeneview played their tails off for those seniors tonight.”
Hoelle said the defense is a good fit for his players. He wanted to prevent Indians’ leading scorers Bolender and Maggie Coe from creating shots like they did in the first game against man defense. Of course, he knew giving them room to shoot from outside could backfire, but it didn’t.
“We’ve used it throughout the season but not as much the past couple weeks,” Hoelle said. “We tried to be a little sneaky with it because we knew we were probably going to play it tonight.”
Winning the league title isn’t the only accomplishment Fife will remember. On her second basket of the game at the 6:16 mark of the first quarter, she became the third Greeneview girls player to score 1,000 points. She led the Rams with 17 points.
“She’s been huge for us all season, handling pressure at point, getting us into our offense,” Hoelle said. “I’m real proud of her. It’s a great accomplishment.”
Sylvie Sonneman scored 14 points off the bench for the Rams and Strickle added 12.
The sectional tournament begins this week for both teams. Greeneview is a No. 3 seed in Division III and plays No. 15 Brookville at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Trotwood-Madison High School. The Rams could be headed for a sectional final showdown with OHC North winner West Liberty-Salem on Feb. 27. The Rams beat the Tigers 44-33 in early January.
Cedarville (17-5) is a No. 2 seed in Division IV and plays No. 9 Middletown Christian at 2 p.m. Saturday at Monroe High School. The Indians could reach a third straight district final without having to beat a team with a winning record. If the Indians win those three games, they will likely face perennial power and top-seeded Fort Loramie.
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