Badin High School’s next girls basketball challenge is a Lovely one.
The Rams will face Greeneview, powered by four-year starting guard Ashton Lovely, in a Division III district final Saturday afternoon at Springfield.
“She’s the main thing we’ve got to worry about,” Badin coach Tom Sunderman said. “She’s as good as advertised. She gets going from about 30 feet out, and she gets to the rim. She’s very unselfish. She creates a lot of shots for her teammates.”
The 5-foot-9 Lovely is averaging 22.3 points and 5.9 assists per game for Greeneview (22-3). Lovely has committed to the University of Cincinnati.
“She’s a complete package,” Greeneview coach Gregg Haines said. “She can shoot it, but she doesn’t get enough credit for her passing. She’s fun to watch.”
Lovely is 18 points short of the 2,000 mark for career scoring. For Badin (13-12), senior guard Torey Stang is 28 points away from reaching 1,000.
Both schools have Ram mascots.
“The girls have got some confidence going right now,” said Sunderman, whose team has won nine of its last 11 contests. “We’re playing with a lot more energy.
“Teams that we were playing early in the year were two, three steps faster than the teams we’re playing now, and that’s helped us quite a bit. We’re hoping that our tournament experience and our schedule will help us.”
Greeneview doesn’t have great tradition. GHS hasn’t won a district title since the 1980-81 season. Its last district final appearance was 12 years ago.
“Our girls realize the talent they have,” said Haines, in his third year as head coach. “We don’t get many chances like this coming from a small, rural school, so we want to make sure we take advantage of this.”
Greeneview was unbeaten in the Ohio Heritage Conference. Haines admitted the OHC was down this year, so he tried to bulk up his nonconference schedule. That produced losses to Springboro, Fayetteville-Perry and Clinton-Massie.
The Rams began the campaign 1-2, but they were buoyed by the return of senior guard Natasha Siebenaler from an offseason knee injury.
“We had to grow up a little bit,” Haines said. “Our schedule was pretty tough at the beginning of the year. When Natasha came back, it kind of got everybody in their comfort zone.”
Greeneview starts four guards — Lovely, Siebenaler, senior Alexandra Rice and junior Katelyn Combs — and a forward (junior Sophie Sonneman).
The 5-11 Sonneman is averaging 12.1 points and 10.9 rebounds per game. Sophomore guard Kristen Combs is averaging about 10 points per contest off the bench.
Haines said his Rams will launch a lot of 3-pointers. Lovely and Kristen Combs own the best percentages from that range.
“We try to get it out and go,” the GHS coach said. “We play a lot of man defense, and we want to put some points on the board and run in transition. We don’t normally play a halfcourt game because teams can get it down low on us.”
Both coaches feel this is an evenly matched game. The winner will return to Springfield for a regional semifinal against either Richwood North Union or Columbus Ready on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.
“We’ve watched Badin a couple of times,” Haines said. “I think they’re a little more physical than us, but both teams match up well as far as size and style of play.”
He said Badin’s record is irrelevant, noting that he wishes Greeneview had faced a more difficult slate.
“We threw the records out the window, especially after we saw Badin play the first time,” Haines said. “This team’s the real deal. We’re going to have to bring it.”
What: Division III district final, Badin (13-12) vs. Greeneview (22-3)
When: 3 p.m.
Where: Springfield High School, 701 E. Home Road, Springfield