LEBANON — In a district semifinal with state-final intensity, Valley View beat Bellbrook, 46-42, in Division II girls basketball Feb. 25 at Lebanon High School.
The Golden Eagles trailed by as many as 12 in the third quarter, scraped and clawed their way back into it — cutting the lead to two twice — but they could never get that key basket when it was needed.
Bellbrook’s season ends at 14-11, while Southwestern Buckeye League brethren Valley View improves to 15-7 and has a date with either Roger Bacon or Indian Hill, both Cincinnati-area teams, in a district final Friday, March 1 at Mason High School.
“Today was one of those days, we were fighting to get over that hump,” Bellbrook coach Jason Tincher said. “It’s not for a lack of trying their very hardest.”
Valley View led 20-16 at halftime and scored the first eight points in the third quarter to seize control at 28-16 with 5:01 left. After a timeout, the Golden Eagles used three free throws from Bailey Zerby, a length-of-the-court drive and basket from Kayla Paul and a three-pointer from Maren Freudenschuss to cut the lead to 28-24. The Spartans increased the lead to 33-24 after a three-pointer from Chloe Smith (15 points) and a pair of free throws from Abby Dickson. Paul and Kendall Knisely scored the quarter’s final four points on drives to the basket to cut the score to 33-28 after three.
“(We said) let’s keep attacking the basket and then we made some layups,” Tincher said.
Lauren Legate (13 points) opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, but Paul scored on another drive, followed by a pair of free throws from Olivia Greathouse and a layup from Freudenschuss after a turnover on the ensuing inbound play to make it 36-34 with 4:51 left.
Smith made a basket and was fouled at the other end, but she missed the free throw. Teammate Aubrey Stupp grabbed the rebound and scored to make it 40-34 with 4:42 left.
About a minute later, Paul scored after a turnover to make it 40-36. After a Bellbrook timeout, the Golden Eagles forced another turnover, but they could not convert it. Legate made a layup at the other end before Paul made a free throw and Zerby made a three-pointer to cut the score to 42-40 with 1:58 left.
The teams traded turnovers and then Dickson made a free throw for a 43-40 lead with 1:20 left. The Golden Eagles could get no closer the rest of the way as they missed a three-pointer and a layup in the final 45 seconds.
“Just couldn’t get enough of the ones we needed late,” Tincher said. “Didn’t fall.”
Paul led Bellbrook with 10 points, while Zerby and Mescher — playing her last game for the Golden Eagles — had eight each. Freudenschuss and Greathouse, also seniors, had five points each while Kendall Knisely had four and senior Dani Westbrock two.
Brook Tincher is the other senior on the roster for Bellbrook, which at one point was 4-8 before winning eight of nine heading into Monday’s game.
“We had a turning point against Eaton (which sparked five wins in six games) where we said we don’t want to keep losing,” Mescher said.
Added Greathouse: “We never give up. We just said no, this isn’t how our season is going to be. We have learned a lot as basketball players.”
Most of the senior class has seen varsity action for three years but the teammates go back farther than that.
“We’ve been playing together since we were 10-years-old,” Freudenschuss said.