Girls tourney: Centerville rebounds with KO of West in district final

Nearly derailed on the tournament trail earlier in the week, Centerville answered any questions about its resolve with an impressive 67-55 knockout of favored Lakota West in a girls high school basketball Division I district final at Princeton on Saturday afternoon.

It was the first of four district finals and rocketed Centerville (24-2) into the D-I regional semifinals at Trent Arena on Wednesday. The Elks will play Cincinnati Walnut Hills (25-1), which eliminated Wayne 58-49 in Saturday’s second game.

Fairmont, the third Greater Western Ohio Conference rep, was bounced 56-30 by Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in Game 3.

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Last Monday, top-seeded Centerville rallied from a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit to stun upset-minded Springboro 65-63 in a sectional final on Amy Velasco’s buzzer-beating layup. Playing with a renewed determination, Centerville pounced on West early, thanks to freshman Cotie McMahon, and trailed only early in the second half.

McMahon was sensational for Centerville, scoring 16 first-quarter points and torching West with a game-high 31 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals.

“We knew we could pull out this win,” said McMahon, among the state’s most recruited underclass players. “We’ve come back from some tough games. We just had to come out and punch them in the mouth and that’s what we did. We had something to prove.”

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Alexis Hutchison hit three 3-pointers and added 17 points for the Elks and Amy Velasco had 13 points.

Centerville last played in a regional in 2014.

“It was a great challenge and we had a lot of energy and effort,” Centerville coach Adam Priefer said. “Cotie did a good job getting us started by finishing at the rim. The kids believed in one another. After Monday’s comeback they just thought they could do anything. We didn’t even talk about the game on Monday. We just moved on.”

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Nevaeh Dean, a 6-foot-1 junior who’s committed to Virginia Tech University, led West with 24 points and 10 rebounds. West (23-3) and the Greater Miami Conference champ, had a 10-game win streak snapped. An established state power, the Firebirds won a D-I state championship in 2015.

Cin. Walnut Hills 58, Wayne 49: Trailing by double digits most of the game, Wayne closed to within 52-49 with 17.1 seconds left on Nyla Hampton's layup. Walnut Hills answered by making six free throws.

It was the third straight season for Wayne (17-5) to be eliminated in a district final after being bounced by Mount Notre Dame last season. It also was Wayne’s fourth consecutive district final appearance. The Warriors had an 11-game win streak snapped.

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Sophomore Aubryanna Hall led Wayne with 17 points and 10 rebounds. University of Dayton signee and senior Destiny Bohanon added 14 points and seven rebounds. Hampton had 11 points.

Kennedi Myles, who signed with Miami, had 21 points and 10 rebounds for Walnut Hills, the Eastern Cincinnati Conference champ. Sean Kelly Darks added 16 points. Walnut Hills takes a 15-game win streak into the regional.

Cin. Mount Notre Dame 56, Fairmont 30: The Cougars unleashed their defensive might, holding the Firebirds to a season-low point total. Maddy Westbeld had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Fairmont (16-9), which had a five-game win streak snapped.

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Fairmont hit just 5 of 19 first-half field goals and trailed by 18 points at halftime.

“We struggled from the start and couldn’t get out of it,” first-year Fairmont coach Jeremey Finn said. “That’s a credit to MND. That’s the toughest team I’ve seen this year.”

MND senior guard Abby Marshall had 12 points. She signed with Iowa.

Mount Notre Dame (23-2) is paired against the Mercy McAuley/Mason winner in a D-I regional semi at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Trent.

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