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SWBL supremacy: Bellbrook, Franklin post D-II sectional wins

Of the 14 girls high school basketball teams that started Division II sectional play at Lebanon High School, five were from the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division. Four of those schools played for sectional titles Monday.

Revenge. Vengeance. Karma. All of the above. Bellbrook booted No. 1 seed and league champion Valley View 53-45. Franklin outlasted Monroe 44-39.

The Eagles (17-8) advance to their third straight district final, while the Wildcats (18-6) will appear in the program’s second. Bellbrook plays Roger Bacon and Franklin plays the Trotwood-Madison/Carroll winner Friday at Mason. Game times will be announced this week.

“I knew the game would be a knock-down, drag-out and it was hard fought,” Bellbrook head coach Jason Tincher said. “And that’s what I like about our league. This game and the one played before it shows you how good the SWBL is right now. There’s going to be some battles.”

During the regular season the Spartans, ranked seventh in the final state poll, beat the Eagles two times by a combined six points. The second of those meetings – and the decisive one in Germantown – came on a long Hunter Stidham heave at the buzzer. As a result, VV (19-3) unseated the two-time defending divisional champion Eagles. Bellbrook drew the No. 2 seed and sought another shot at the Spartans.

Bellbrook built a 16-3 lead and didn’t allow Valley View its first field goal until Stidham hit a 3-pointer with 3:50 left before half. The Eagles led 22-10 at the break.

Bellbrook’s lead grew to 31-15 in the third before a 12-0 run by Valley View pulled the Spartans to within four (31-27). That was as close as it got.

Cassidy Hofacker led Bellbrook with 17 points, while Bekah Vine and Maren Freudenschuss added 13 and nine, respectively.

Stidham, the divisional player of the year, capped her stellar career with a game-high 21 points before fouling out with 21 seconds left.

“It’s very hard to beat a team three times, especially a good team,” Valley View coach Steve Dickson said. “We battled them three times.”

• Monroe and Franklin both entered 17-6 and were the four and five seeds, respectively. The squads split during the regular season. Standout junior Layne Ferrell scored 18 points for Franklin to became her program’s all-time leading scorer (1,388). She added 20 rebounds.

“It was an SWBL night,” Franklin head coach John Rossi said. “Good things are happening at Franklin. I don’t think our kids understand the magnitude yet. But it’s an exciting time.”

The Southwestern Division’s other sectional entrant – Oakwood – beat Fenwick in its postseason opener before losing to Monroe.

Bellbrook – which owns 17 SWBL titles, including 14 in the last 18 years – has been the headliner for the league. The Eagles reserve team finished 17-5 and both the seventh and eighth grade teams made the SWBL middle school finals. Bellbrook has been to two state tournaments (1976 and 2012). The rest of the division hasn’t been to any.

“We missed out on the league and the kids were upset,” Tincher said. “But I told the girls our story isn’t done. I told them they can write the ending they want. We won’t miss that league title as much if we can win another title during this run.”

Wayne 41, Springboro 30: The Warriors pulled a mild upset and rebounded from a decision loss to the Panthers in the regular season by winning a D-I girls sectional final at Troy. A No. 2 seed, Springboro (21-4) had its 12-game win streak snapped and had defeated Wayne 56-27 in the regular season. Panthers senior Jordan Diehl surpassed 1,000 career points in the game. Wayne (15-9) will play the Fairfield/Mount Notre Dame winner in a district final at Princeton on Saturday.

Beavercreek 48, Centerville 38: The Beavers defeated the Elks for the third time in a D-I sectional final at Butler. Beavercreek (21-4) also advances to a D-I district final at Prince on Saturday against the Ursuline/Mason winner.

Legacy Christian 46, Fayetteville Perry 19: The Knights easily won a D-IV sectional final at Monroe. Legacy Christian (22-3) will play the Covington/Franklin Monroe winner in a D-IV district final on Saturday at Troy.

Cedarville 55, Southeastern 17: The No. 2 seeded Indians easily won a matchup of Ohio heritage Conference rivals in a D-IV sectional final at Monroe. Cedarville (20-5) will play No. 1 seed Fort Loramie (20-5) in a D-IV district final at Troy on Saturday.

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