MONROE — Top-seeded Cedarville can be excused for having a bit of an attitude during Wednesday’s Feb. 22 girls sectional semifinal contest with the Cincinnati College Prep Academy.
Nothing against the 12th seeded Wildcats, the Indians just wanted to show themselves that they were a better team than the one who played to a first-round win five days ago.
Cedarville played like it was on a mission. The Indians scored the game’s first 18 points and romped to a 92-10 win at Monroe High School.
“I knew we’d be ready to play today,” said Cedarville coach Josh Mason. “The girls were upset at themselves. They understood that (a 47-34 win over second-seeded James Gamble Montessori) wasn’t our best outing, and I knew coming into this match that we were going to make up for that one … and we did.”
Ise Bolender had 14 of her game-high 22 points in the first quarter. Eleven of 12 Indians players scored in the game, and Cedarville (21-3) played a reserve lineup for the entire fourth quarter. Maggie Coe finished with 15 points, Hayley Melton tossed in a dozen points and reserve Sydney Wright finished with 11 fourth-quarter points.
Unofficially, CCPA turned the ball over 39 times. But despite the lopsided loss, the Lions continued to play with a positive attitude and plenty of laughs. Down by 73 points at the time, the Lions’ Iman Behanan toed the free-throw line and gave the feed me hand signal, made famous by former Ohio State Buckeye turned Dallas Cowboy running back Ezekiel Elliott, drawing chuckles from her coach and her teammates.
“I try to get my young ladies to understand that we win with dignity, and we lose with dignity,” Lions coach Lora Ward said. “We’re out here to have fun. If you’re enjoying yourself, and you’re out here doing the best that you can, that’s all I can ask.”
Mason came away impressed with CCPA’s attitude, despite the lopsided score.
“I give them all the credit in the world. We’ve been in that situation before, where teams just give up and they start to get nasty. But the thing about that team, they were excited, they were pumped up and they had that kind of energy that you wanna play with. I give them all the credit in the world, for them to keep playing like that. Credit goes to their coach. Those are special girls. Even though the scoreboard doesn’t show it, those are special kids to play hard like that for the whole game,” he said. “That’s the type of team you want to coach. No matter how the game is going, you’re out there doing your best and enjoying the game.
“Hats off to them.”
Nakia Napier led the Lions (1-23) with six points, “Feed Me” Behanan scored three, and Micah Griffin tossed in one. Seniors Arionna Jackson and Ruby Ford played their final games.
With the win, Cedarville will take on either third seed Cincinnati Country Day or No. 10 Felicity-Franklin. Those teams played immediately after Cedarville’s win Wednesday night at Monroe.
“Our girls and I are going to stick around and scout this next game. We’re onto the next opponent, and we’re hungry to win another,” Mason said. Cedarville will play in the Division IV sectional title game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25 at Monroe High.
You can reach John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123