‘A great team win’ -- Shawnee boys basketball rallies to win first district title in 44 years

The Shawnee High School boys basketball team celebrates after winning its first district title since 1977. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

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The Shawnee High School boys basketball team celebrates after winning its first district title since 1977. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

VANDALIA — After 44 years, the Shawnee High School boys basketball team are finally district champions.

The Braves overcame an eight-point third quarter deficit in route to a 39-37 victory over Cincinnati Summit Country Day in a Division III district final game on Friday, March 5, at the Vandalia Butler Student Activity Center.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” said Shawnee coach Chris McGuire. “These guys kept grinding. We kept telling these guys to stick to it. We knew if we kept getting stops and get the ball, we could score. We did a much better job in the second half of attacking the basket.”

Shawnee senior Drew Mitch scored a game-high 14 points for the Braves, including seven in the fourth quarter.

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“It was a great team win,” Mitch said. “We fought back as a team and did everything we could to come back and win the game.”

Shawnee won its first district title since 1977. It was the first district title in five appearances for McGuire.

“We’ve had some opportunities while I’ve been here and we haven’t been able to capitalize on it,” he said. “We feel like we’ve been knocking on the door and this group took advantage of their situation.”

Shawnee trailed 18-10 in the second quarter, but Mitch scored seven straight points to cut the lead to one point at 18-17. Summit Country Day led 20-17 at the half.

“(Mitch) has been like that for us all three years that he’s played,” McGuire said. “He does the little things. … I think he’s been a calming force for a lot of the guys. They look up to him and he deserves it because he’s been a great leader for Shawnee.”

The Silver Knights opened the second half on a 5-0 run to grab a 25-17 lead. After calling a timeout, the Braves went on a 15-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by sophomore Zion Crowe to grab a 32-27 lead with six minutes remaining.

Summit Country Day cut the lead to two points at 37-35 on a bucket by Maalik Cody with less than two minutes to go.

On the next possession, Mitch was trapped in the corner and threw the ball into traffic under the basket and found senior Jamon Miller, who fought for the loose ball and made a layup to give the Braves a four-point cushion.

“I just grabbed it and put it up as quick as I could,” Miller said.

The Silver Knights cut the lead to 39-37 in the last minute and had a chance to tie the game on the last possession with 13.1 seconds remaining. Matt Dahling’s shot at the buzzer hit the rim, bounced back down into the cylinder and rolled out as time expired.

“It felt like it was up there forever bouncing around,” McGuire said.

Shawnee (16-4) advanced to face either Versailles or Mariemont in a D-III regional semifinal game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Vandalia Butler. Shawnee last advanced to the regional finals in 1975.

“We want to enjoy it, but we’re not done,” McGuire said. “We’re going to enjoy this one, but we’ve got to get ready to practice next week. Our job’s not done. We want to go as far as we can possibly go until a team is flat better than us when we play our best.”

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Greeneview High School's Rhett Burtch drives past Anna Isaiah Masteller during their game on Friday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activity Center. The Rockets won 60-59. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Greeneview High School's Rhett Burtch drives past Anna Isaiah Masteller during their game on Friday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activity Center. The Rockets won 60-59. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

caption arrowCaption
Greeneview High School's Rhett Burtch drives past Anna Isaiah Masteller during their game on Friday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activity Center. The Rockets won 60-59. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Anna 60, Greeneview 59: Junior McKane Finkenbine hit two free throws with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift Anna to its third straight district title.

The Rams, playing in their first district final since 2011, trailed 45-34 midway through the fourth quarter, but fought back to take a 59-58 lead on a layup by Carter Williams with about 25 seconds remaining.

Rams senior Cole Allen blocked Isaiah Mastellar’s attempt with about six seconds remaining and the Rockets rebounded the ball, but were called for traveling.

On the ensuing possession, Finkenbine stole a pass near his own basket, drove to the hoop and was fouled. He hit two free throws to give the Rockets the lead.

“As disappointing as it is, it’s a huge positive and I honestly didn’t expect anything different,” said Rams coach Kyle Fulk. “Even down 11 on the bench, you could see in their eyes that they were still going to battle. They made some really big plays, but just needed one more. That’s what the game of basketball comes down to, one play. Anna is a really good team and made one more play than us and that’s why they’re moving on.”

Rams senior Rhett Burtch scored 18 points, Ethan Caudill scored 13 points and Williams added 10 for Greeneview, which finished its season 17-7.

“I love this group of kids,” Fulk said. “We didn’t win the game, but they way they battled all season and with what they showed tonight, I think these kids are going to be pretty set for life. I think they’re going to do very well.”

Anna (21-5) advanced to face the winner of Cincinnati Taft and Indian Lake at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Vandalia Butler.

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