Boys Basketball

‘This is what it’s all about’ — Badin captures first district title since 2002


DAYTON — CJ Fleming paced the University of Dayton Arena locker room with a game ball and spun it in his hands a couple of times as he gave the Badin High School boys basketball team a victory speech.

“I know you guys make fun of me,” the first-year BHS coach said. “But what you guys are doing right now, fellas. What is it?”

“Special,” some of the Rams mocked.

“This is what it’s all about,” they continued.

“You guys went 1-0 today,” another player yelled.

Cooper Ollis scored a game-high 24 points, Grant Wissman had 18, Aidan Brown added 17 and Badin celebrated its first district title since 2002 with a 68-58 win over Chaminade Julienne on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s special,” Wissman said with a gleaming smile. “We couldn’t have thought about this at the beginning of the year. It’s 1-0 every day. That’s all coach is preaching, and that’s all we do.”

The Rams, who snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Eagles, are enjoying their first winning season since 2019-2020 and have won 13 of their last 15 — including five straight.

“Coach talked about it in the locker room how the seniors now were 0-8 versus (Chaminade Julienne),” said Ollis, a junior. “We used that as motivation. We got our revenge today.”

Badin’s last district championship appearance was on March 4, 2014 — a 68-48 loss to Stivers in Division III. The Rams most recent district title victory was in 2002 when they beat McNicholas 62-53.

“This is awesome. It’s everything we wanted,” Brown said. “I think a year ago today, none of us would have thought. But we put in the work this year, and we’re here. This is just so much fun. We’ve just got to enjoy it while we’re here.”

Badin (16-10) faces Wyoming in the Division II regional semifinals on Thursday, March 14, at 8 p.m. at Vandalia Butler.

“It feels like two seasons in one,” Fleming said. “Our first 11 games and our last 11 games have been different. And even from our last 11 to these last four have been different. It’s all credit to how hard these guys play, how much they want it. They come every single day to practice. Winter’s a long season. They come every single day ready to battle.

“We went after it this week. We knew CJ was going to come after us. We worked on it. The white team was great in practice, and I’m just so happy these guys.”

Fleming was hired as Badin’s head coach in March. The school’s football program had a deep run in the playoffs, which forced the basketball team to start its season later than expected. So, out of anyone’s control, the transition into the Fleming era wasn’t the smoothest.

The Rams opened things up Dec. 12 on the road against Greater Catholic League Co-ed rival Fenwick and was handed a staggering 58-36 drubbing — their worst loss of the season.

“We knew that it was going to be a process,” Fleming said. “Our main thing for the guys — even on Jan. 19 when we played these guys up at CJ — it turned us to 3-8. … Finally, we got some things to happen. Got a couple wins in a row, and then it came from there.”

CJ (12-12) beat the Rams both times during the regular season — 68-49 on Jan. 6 and 55-41 on Jan. 19. But the third meeting between the GCL Co-ed foes had different vibes.

The first half saw eight lead changes on Saturday, and the margin never reached more than four points either way. The Eagles led 15-14 after one quarter, then the Rams took a 26-22 advantage into the half.

Chaminade Julienne outscored Badin 22-15 in the third quarter and used a 19-6 run to take a 44-41 lead. Callaghan Weatherspoon’s bucket gave the Eagles a 46-41 lead to start the fourth, and an 8-0 run by the Rams put them back on top 49-46 with 5:20 left to play.

The scoring spree included a Wissman trey and an Ollis 3 off a Wissman steal — which Fleming said both were gamechangers. Badin never trailed after that.

“There were so many plays,” Fleming said. “I like the one where Grant, who we want to have stay back in the press, reads up, steals it, hits it to Coop, and Coop hits a 35-footer to tie it.”

“They were pressuring us, and we had no game plan of me setting ball screens at all,” added the 6-foot-7 Wissman, who knocked down four total 3-pointers. “That’s what I did, and it ended up working.”

The Rams went 11 of 13 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to seal it.

“Winning has been at Badin for a long time,” Fleming said. “For basketball, it’s been a little bit. Getting these guys to keep experiencing winning and to just want it. These guys want it so bad. I’m just so happy for them.”

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