After two grueling defeats of rival Lebanon, Haylie Crouch of Springboro was prepared for another grinder. But Friday’s sectional final would be played with a twist.
“I feel like they knew everything we were going to do,” Crouch said of their Greater Western Ohio Conference National West rival. “We had to come up with some new things.”
Springboro did just that and landed a 54-31 defeat of Lebanon at Troy. Wayne blew out Northmont equally impressively in the opener, 74-38.
The wins jettison Springboro (20-5) and Wayne (20-4) into next Saturday’s Division I district final showdowns at Cincinnati Princeton. Springboro will play Girls Greater Catholic League power McAuley (21-2) and Wayne gets another GGCL titan in Mount Notre Dame (20-4).
A 6-foot-1 senior, Crouch was the go-to offensive threat for Springboro. She tallied 14 points and caused havoc near the basket.
“It’s great,” she said. “We’ve beat them three times and we’re so excited. We’re really proud.”
That inside game was all but missing in two regular-season matchups that Springboro swept, 37-36 and 47-39 in the regular-season final just two games ago. No one could have envisioned a blowout in their third contest.
“Obviously, they did not make shots,” Springboro coach Tom Benjamin said. “Anytime that happens you’re vulnerable. I don’t know how to explain that. I didn’t anticipate that. A credit to our kids, they did what had to be done. There were some gutsy plays by us and we’re thrilled to be moving on.”
Junior Jordan Diehl added 11 points for the Panthers, who have won four straight since falling by two points at Beavercreek.
Lebanon (16-8) was paced by senior Rachel Perry’s 15 points. Junior Alexis Straw, among the GWOC leaders in scoring and assists, was limited to six points.
Wayne 74, Northmont 38: The Warriors (20-4) had no trouble rolling in the opener. Junior standout Shai McCruder led streaking Wayne with 16 points.
“The work that we put in on and off the court is coming out,” McCruder said. “We’re showing what we can really do. We all work together. We share the ball. We do our roles and we’re not selfish. We’re coming together as a team.”
Wayne also roasted Northmont 70-31 in the regular season. The Warriors will take a 10-game win streak into their second straight district final. They’ve also won 15 of their last 16 games.
“At this time of year against the types of teams we’re going to be playing, we have to have some versatility in our game,” Wayne coach sonya Miller said. “One of the things we focus on is making sure we get a tough enough schedule to be ready for this time of year. Those lumps early allowed us to make whatever adjustments we needed to.”
Maya Dunson added 11 points for Wayne.
Northmont (11-14) was led by Erin Mangen’s 15 points. Salena Roberts added 11.