March to state especially tough for Division I girls teams in Southwest District

Cotie McMahon of Centerville (with ball) draws three Wayne defenders. Wayne defeated visiting Centerville 56-37 in a GWOC girls high school basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Cotie McMahon of Centerville (with ball) draws three Wayne defenders. Wayne defeated visiting Centerville 56-37 in a GWOC girls high school basketball game on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

During a 10-year stint as the Wayne boys basketball coach, Travis Trice hit his share of hurdles in trying to clear a stacked Division I Southwest District postseason. He did it once – winning a state title in 2015.

Now in a third season as the Warriors girls basketball coach, Trice insists the girls southwest gauntlet is even rougher.

“I always thought the boys side was tough to get out of,” Trice said. “The girls side is much, much harder.”

The numbers agree.

Based on the MaxPreps computer rankings, the Greater Western Ohio Conference is the toughest girls basketball affiliation in Ohio. The Southwest District is the state’s deepest.

GWOC members Fairmont (No. 2), Wayne (No. 3), Springboro (No. 6) and Centerville (No. 10) are among the state’s top 10 teams (regardless of division) according to the MaxPreps algorithm that includes strength of schedule, scores and quality wins among its many categories. Fairmont and Wayne are also considered two of the nation’s top teams by the MaxPreps computers, coming in at No. 22 and 30, respectively.

Collectively, the D-I Southwest District postseason includes eight of the computer’s top 13 teams.

Cincinnati Mount Notre (No. 1), Cincinnati Mercy McAuley (No. 5), Lakota West (No. 11) and Loveland (No. 13) join the GWOC contingent. Notre Dame is ranked No. 3 nationally in the MaxPreps Top 25 Rankings.

Moeller (No. 3), LaSalle (No. 15) and Lakota East (No. 21) are the only Southwest District D-I boys teams ranked in the Top 25 by the MaxPreps computers.

Battling Beavers: Just 5-6 at the midway point of the season, Beavercreek's boys basketball team has made considerable progress under first-year head coach and alumnus Steve Pittman. The Beavers (12-7, 6-4) have won seven of their last eight games and secured the program's first winning season since 2013-14 with a 65-57 win over Northmont on Tuesday. Creek finished 8-15 overall and 3-9 in the GWOC last season.

Pittman, who played at the University of Dayton and was an assistant at Middletown last season, was head coach at Ponitz from 2016-18.

Creek’s Adam Duvall, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, ranks third in the GWOC in scoring (15.2 points) and fifth in rebounding (7.5). Gabe Phillips, a 6-7 sophomore center, averages six points, 5.2 rebounds and ranks second in the GWOC in blocks (2.4). Senior guards Yousef Saleh (12.1 points) and Chris Herbort (11.8 points) are among the GWOC leaders in assists and steals.

Creek’s only loss since dropping back-to-back games to Trotwood-Madison and Miamisburg in early January is a 44-42 setback to Elder. After beating Wayne (61-50) last Friday, the Beavers followed with a 58-55 victory over visiting and state-ranked (D-II) Alter on Saturday.

Creek sits second (behind Centerville) in the GWOC American Division heading into Friday’s game at Fairmont (8-10, 4-6).

Big Shots: Since starting 2-3, Tippecanoe's girls have won 15 of 16 and 11 straight following Wednesday's 54-44 win over Sidney in a meeting of MVL divisional leaders. The Red Devils (17-4) are 17-0 in the MVL… Franklin (16-3, 8-2) can win a share of its eighth Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division boys basketball title in nine years with a win at defending champion Brookville (11-9, 4-6) on Friday. Both of Franklin's league losses are to Bellbrook (9-10, 5-5), which Brookville beat Tuesday (45-36)…West Carrollton's Aigbokhai Kadari, a 6-7 sophomore center, broke his own school record for blocks in a game and recorded his second triple-double this season with 13 blocks, 12 points and 17 rebounds in a 77-56 win over Piqua last Friday…Anna's boys tamed two Tigers last weekend. The Rockets (14-3, 9-1) beat Jackson Center 55-38 on Friday to take the lead in the Shelby County Athletic League race and then handled previously unbeaten and then-No. 1 ranked (D-III) Versailles 51-37 on Saturday.