By John Bombatch
JAMESTOWN — The team motto for the 2013-14 Greeneview Rams girls basketball program is a single word: “Family.”
They play together. They work together. They go to movies and hold sleepovers together.
And so it was appropriate that when Greeneview claimed its first district girls basketball championship in 33 years last week, in a 55-40 win over a talented Hamilton Badin squad, Sister Sledge’s hit song “We Are Family” played over the Springfield High School loudspeakers as the team cut down the nets in celebration.
Now they want more.
An early season losing streak, which involved a come-from-behind win over Xenia and then consecutive losses to Springboro and Fayetteville Perry after the team’s first three games, provided the wake up call the team might have needed for the rest of the season.
“We hadn’t lost consecutive games since I’d been coaching here,” coach Gregg Haines said. “It did wake us up. We always talk about how we can’t take things for granted. I think with our talent, we were kind of taking our previous season records for granted, and you can’t do that. That’s something we learned real quickly.”
Natasha Siebenaler came back from an off-season ACL injury. Then Alex Rice came back from an injury of her own. The team ditched the zone defensive scheme and employed a tough man-to-man defense in its place, and things began to pick up.
Today, Greeneview (23-3) is one win away from setting a school record for wins in a season.
“The boys set the record in 2000, when I played here,” Haines said, “And last year, the girls tied that mark. I’d love to see them get the record, they’ve definitely earned it.”
Ashton Lovely, the team’s leading scorer and the school’s career scoring leader currently with 2,001 points, said it’s definitely been a team effort that has gotten the Rams this far.
“Natasha (Siebenaler) and Alex (Rice) and I are the team leaders, but everyone on this team has stepped up,” she said. “We now know that we can’t take anything for granted. And for us seniors, this is it. We have to give it our very best each time we play.”
Up next are the Columbus Bishop Ready Silver Knights (18-6). After lopsided wins over Cardington, Columbus School for Girls and Utica, they withstood a late rally to defeat top-seeded Richwood North Union, 59-57, last weekend to advance. Lauren Ruth led the team with 22 points and seven rebounds, and Caroline Riewe added 16 in the win. It was Ready’s first district title in seven years.
A district title is nice, but Greeneview wants to go even further in the postseason by knocking off Ready.
“It feels really good that we’ve come together like this. Like it says on our warm-up shirts, we are a “Family.” And it is such a team effort, it’s big accomplishment for every one on the team,” said the Rams’ Rice after Monday’s practice. “But we’re not going to be complacent, we definitely want more. We want to keep winning. … It’s been amazing. It’s been a special season, and we don’t want it to end.”
Greeneview and Ready play tonight at 6:15 p.m. at Springfield High School.
The winner will face either Versailles or Casstown Miami East in the regional championship game, at 1:30 p.m., Saturday at Springfield High School. That winner will represent the region in the Division III Final Four in Columbus.