Girls Basketball

Girls basketball: Lakota West advances in Division I postseason play

MIDDLETOWN — Katie Fox admitted she didn’t like the stern talking to she and her Lakota West teammates received.

But the sophomore guard understood.

Fox scored 20 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Sydney Williams had 10 points off the bench and the sixth-seed Firebirds bounced back from a sluggish start to register a 58-49 Division I sectional victory over the 27th-seed Little Miami Panthers on Wednesday night at Middletown’s Wade E. Miller Arena.

“We got yelled at, and it got the fire started under us,” Fox said. “We had to come out with this thought that it could be our last game. We came out with a little edge on our shoulders. After we talked it through in the first quarter, we switched things up.”

Little Miami (7-16) led for most of the first eight minutes, but Lakota West (17-6) hung around long enough to tie it at 17-17going into the second quarter.

“Nothing was working early on,” Fox said. “Our defense wasn’t great. We were getting cut on. Little Miami did a great job of using our defense against us.”

Caroline Bayliff had nine points and 10 rebounds, and Lily Johnson added six points. Kelsey Rolling provided a spark off the bench with six points and three rebounds for the Firebirds, who owned a 29-26 lead at the half.

“We started lethargically,” Lakota West coach Andy Fishman said. “We didn’t really respect the basketball enough. Fortunately, we were able to turn it on.”

The Firebirds turned it on in the second half. They used a 10-2 run that spanned into the fourth quarter to build their largest lead at 51-36. Lakota West closed it at the free-throw line, finishing 14 of 17 (82.4%) from the charity stripe.

The Firebirds advance to face Kings on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Middletown.

“You’ve got to be well-prepared from here on out,” Fox said. “You have to forget about who and what the other team is all about. You have to come ready to play every single game because anyone can have a great game and beat you.

“We’re going to play more as a unit.”

Fishman pointed out that Little Miami’s Bella Houillion scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 17 rebounds.

“They came out with a good game plan. You have to give them credit,” Fishman said. “They were very upset-minded. I hate to see a kid on the other team score 25 points and have 17 rebounds, but the good thing is that it was for the losing team.”


LIBERTY TWP. — Monroe’s two seniors paved the way in a season-ending loss on Wednesday night.

Saffron Weidner scored 14 points, Paityn Corthell had eight points and six rebounds, and the Hornets fell to the Turpin Spartans in a Division I sectional opener at Lakota East.

No. 23 Turpin (8-15) plays Princeton on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m. at Lakota East, while No. 24 Monroe (11-12) wrapped up its season under first-year coach Justin Clemmons.

“Hey, I’m proud of my kids,” Clemmons said. “They battled. Everyone has a lot of adversity in high school sports. But I felt like we had a ton. They were willing to come to work every day. They competed and played so hard.”

Clemmons said the leadership support from Weidner and Corthell gave the youthful Hornets a boost — especially after losing leading scorer and sophomore Jordan McComas in the middle of the season.

Monroe had no juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen on its roster.

“I’m going to try not to get emotional,” Clemmons said of his two seniors. “When Jordan went out, we had a conversation. I said, ‘We need you.’ They ended up committing to roles that they hadn’t done before. They answered back.

“From the day I got this job, they were in the weight room. Every time the gym was open, they were there. We talked about pursuing and getting 1% better every day, and they led us in that. I’m proud of them for that. I’ll be forever grateful that I got the chance to coach those two.”


LIBERTY TWP. — No. 1 seed Princeton rolled No. 35 Hamilton in a Division I sectional opener on Wednesday night at Lakota East.

The Vikings (20-3) face Turpin on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 Lakota East. The Big Blue (3-20) had their best season since 2019-2020. Princeton has won 16 straight games against Hamilton.

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