Stivers fulfills wish, advances to boys D-III regional semi

The returning Stivers players hadn’t left the University of Dayton Arena floor last season before vowing to make a repeat appearance.

It was a stinging loss to Cincinnati Deer Park that Stivers couldn’t shake. No wonder; Deer Park completed an unbeaten season, won a boys high school basketball Division III state title and became the poster program for a radical change in transfer rules by the Ohio High School Athletic Association.

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There wasn’t enough available payback to fully satisfy the Tigers.

“We came out here with a chip on our shoulders,” assured Stivers outstanding junior Trevon Ellis following a 76-62 defeat of Deer Park in another D-III district final at UD on Sunday. “This was one of our first goals to get back here. We knew if we trusted the process, we could get it done.”

Versailles got it done, too, withstanding Reading’s second-half comeback for a 47-44 win in Sunday’s opener.

Those games were two of four D-III boys district finals on Sunday. Anna, of the Shelby County Athletic League, defeated Clark Montessori 68-59 and Cross County Conference rep National Trail lost 51-31 to Cincinnati Purcell Marian in the nightcap.

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All the winners advance to the D-III regional semifinals at Fairmont’s Trent Arena on Wednesday.

Stivers (20-4) is the last Dayton City League team still on the tourney trail. The Tigers earned their first regional appearance since then-coach Shawn McCullough – now at Thurgood Marshall – guided Stivers into a D-III regional in 2014. Before that, Stivers hadn’t ventured that deep into the postseason since the great Frankie Sanders led the Tigers to a Class AA state runner-up in 1975.

Ellis was sensational, as usual. He tallied 17 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals. That’s his norm; he averages a triple double.

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Afterward, he beamed knowing the Tigers carried the Dayton Public Schools banner.

“We want to get it done and represent Dayton,” he said. “It’s 9-3-7 (area code) time.”

Da’Juan Allen hit 9 of 13 shots and led Stivers in scoring with 19 points. Allen Latimore added 11 points and Antonio Aubrey 10.

Mark Wise was a beast for Deer Park, unloading 24 points, 15 rebounds and four steals on Stivers. It should have been more: He hit just 2 of 15 free throws.

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Cincinnati Roger Bacon knocked out Stivers in that 2014 regional semi. Stivers will be looking to do the same to Anna (24-2) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Trent.

“This means everything,” Stivers coach Felix Turner said. “We really used this as a measuring stick as to how much we’ve gotten better. We got to this point last year, so it was very important for us to get over the hump. We had a lot of good lessons learned during the season and it’s all coming together. I’m very proud of them.”

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Versailles 47, Reading 44: Michael Stammen had 14 points and Evan Hiestand 12 in leading the Tigers. Versailles (15-10) led by 13 points in the first quarter but briefly trailed in the fourth.

Versailles is just one season removed from the record-setting Justin Ahrens era, has just one senior and only two players returned from last season. Ahrens is now in Ohio State’s rotation as a freshman.

Versailles absorbed many of those losses in Midwest Athletic Conference play.

“Our kids are really conference battle-tested,” Tigers coach Travis Swank said. “We’re not a very pretty team, but we just get it done somehow. They want to prove everybody wrong, that we’re getting better and that’s all you can ask.”

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