Girls basketball regionals: Centerville gets another shot at top-ranked Mount Notre Dame

Centerville's Amy Velasco (front) and Cotie McMahon during a practice earlier this season. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED
Centerville's Amy Velasco (front) and Cotie McMahon during a practice earlier this season. Greg Billing/CONTRIBUTED

Several area teams still alive in state tournament

On Jan. 9, the Centerville girls basketball team lost by nine at Ohio powerhouse Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame. The Elks haven’t lost since.

That’s a 15-game winning streak.

MND, the 2019 state champion and the team that expected to win state last year before COVID-19 canceled the final four, has a winning streak of its own: 68 games.

The Elks (22-2) face MND (24-0) again at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in a Division I regional semifinal at Princeton High School. The Elks also have a loss to MND in their memory at the 2019 regional final.

ExploreCenterville, Wayne advance to Division I regional

“This is what you want,” Elks coach Adam Priefer said. “You want to be able to play the team that hasn’t lost in a long time. At this point in the year every game is going to be very difficult no matter what when there’s only 16 teams left in the state.”

The second semifinal at 8 also features a GWOC team and an unbeaten team: Wayne (17-3) vs. Mason (20-0). Wayne advanced when Princeton was unable to play in the district finals because of going into COVID-19 quarantine.

Centerville’s star players – junior Cotie McMahon and senior Amy Velasco – remember the trip to MND in January when they trailed by 21 at halftime and scored 33 points in the fourth quarter.

“If we can come back from 25, we can come back from anything,” McMahon said. “So we’re going into this game with a different mindset. We’re playing to win.”

McMahon scored 24 with five assists in that game and Velasco scored 13 with six assists. MND star KK Bransford, the Southwest District Division I player of the year, scored 28 and her sidekick Laila Phelia scored 24.

The Elks’ game plan is defense first. The other challenge is shooting well from 3-point range over the Cougars’ zone. The Elks shot 43% in their district final win over Lebanon and made 8 of 20 3-point attempts. On the season, the Elks shot 36.7% from 3-point range and 46% overall.

“Always good defense leads to good offense,” Velasco said. “We need to bring energy.”

Division II

After knocking off top-seeded Tippecanoe in the district semifinals, Carroll (18-4) won its fourth district title in five years. Next up is Valley View (20-5) in a Division II regional semifinal at 8 Tuesday at Springfield High School.

Carroll, state runner-up in 2019 and state semifinalist last year, are being led by the guard combo of senior Ava Lickliter and junior Sarah Ochs. Lickliter averages nine points a game, but she has increased her scoring average in the tournament to 13 over the last three games. Ochs is up from 14.8 to 17.8 in the tournament. And senior forward Megan Leraas, who averages 10.8 points, scored 15 in the district final.

Valley View is back in the regionals for the second straight year. Last year Carroll beat the Spartans 59-19 in the semifinals. The Spartans return three key players in senior point guard Abigail Dickson (9.1 points, 4.2 assists), junior Claire Henson (13 points) and senior Lauren Legate (12.6 points, 9.9 rebounds).

Badin faces Columbus Bishop Hartley at 5:30 p.m. in the opener Tuesday.

Division III

Waynesville (16-7) faces Worthington Christian (22-1) at 5:30 Wednesday at Springfield. The Spartans are playing in the regionals for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Worthington advanced with a one-point victory on two free throws with 2.3 seconds left for its first district title since 2015.

ExploreWaynesville, Anna headed to regionals

Anna (18-7) meets GCL Co-ed champion Cincinnati Purcell Marian (19-3) in the other semifinal at 8.

Division IV

Four teams in the final state top 10 poll will play at Vandalia Butler High School. Top-ranked Fort Loramie (25-1), a state semifinalist last year, takes on nearby rival and No. 3 Minster (21-1) at 5:30. At 8, No. 6 Tri-Village (22-2) faces No. 8 Legacy Christian (21-3).