TROY — Not having faced adversity often during its campaign, Bellbrook had to dig deep on Monday in the second half and find a will to win.
Sidney gave the Golden Eagles all it could handle, but a numbers game won out. Bellbrook advanced to its first district title game with a 53-44 win at Troy High School.
Bellbrook, the No. 3-seed and ranked in the top-10 of the state in Division I, found itself trailing by 10 midway through the third quarter. After a timeout following a made field goal, Bellbrook switched its strategy and applied a full court press.
It worked as a 15-0 run propelled Bellbrook to a lead it would not relinquish.
“We didn’t want to panic,” head coach Jason Tincher said. “It was a two possession game at half. We knew they didn’t sub hardly with their injuries this year. We told them that we wanted to run on them, get some breakouts and make them run the length of the floor.”
Sidney primarily only uses its starting five due to injuries and inexperience. It won the MVL league title despite its roster limitation and put on a tremendous display of toughness to not let its energy levels drain facing the Golden Eagles fast paced game.
Initiating the press with 3:10 left in the third, Bellbrook immediately forced a 10-second violation and made the final four field goals of the period. Alayna Meyer’s only basket of the game gave Bellbrook the lead back at 38-35 in the final minute of the quarter.
Trading baskets in the fourth and a two-point game with four minutes left, Sidney began to show signs of fatigue with several shots left short. Bellbrook was able to a pair of fast break baskets to extend its lead to six and closed things out at the free throw line.
“When we got down we said let’s just throw this press out there to try to get them out of rhythm and maybe they’ll shoot a little faster or something and it worked,” Tincher said. “It maybe helped out tempo a little bit too. I thought we moved a little bit faster and we kept them away from the bucket and then let fatigue set in.”
Taylor Scohy led Bellbrook with 15 points with Dreann Pryce scoring 13. Pryce, the team’s only senior, also was tasked with leading the point on the press and made plays which don’t shot up in the scorebook.
“We called that Dre being Dre,” Tincher said. “We don’t say a whole lot to her. Sometimes I will be oh my gosh Dre and then I will turn into oh my gosh did you see what she did. I love that kid and she’s always got a smile on her face and being a team first kid at heart.”
Sidney was led by Allie Stockton’s game-high 17 points. She only had two points in the second half and Tincher complimented Scohy for her defense of Stockton.
Bellbrook had only played four games this season prior to Monday where it did not win by at least 10 points, going 2-2 in those contests.
Jumping out to a 7-0 lead, Bellbrook saw Sidney settle down and eventually grab its first lead during the second quarter before taking a 29-23 lead at halftime.
The win was the ninth-straight for Bellbrook (23-2) following its only two losses of the season. The Golden Eagles advance to face Mount Notre Dame, which was ranked No. 1 in the final state AP poll for D-I, on Saturday at Princeton High School. A game time is yet to be determined.
Tincher said he knows someone would most likely need to play the team’s top ranked team and is happy it’s his team.
“I don’t want the season to end, I love being around these girls,” he said. “They’re just fun competitive and hard-working girls. There’s only so many teams left now and I can just tell our girls we’re just trying to cut nets down and get medals.
“They’ve put themselves into that opportunity and you can’t do anything else but try to take advantage of it. Not a lot of teams get to do this.”
Head coach Jason Tincher
Contact Steven Wright at 937-502-4498 and follow on Twitter @Steven_Wright_.