Girls basketball: Big third quarter lifts Centerville past Tecumseh

Cutline: Centerville High School senior Amy Velasco shoots the ball in front of Tecumseh's Gabrielle Russell (left) and Terah Harness (right) during their game on Monday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activities Center. The Elks won 71-40. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Cutline: Centerville High School senior Amy Velasco shoots the ball in front of Tecumseh's Gabrielle Russell (left) and Terah Harness (right) during their game on Monday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activities Center. The Elks won 71-40. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

Velasco scores game-high 24 points to pace Elks

VANDALIA — The Centerville High School girls basketball team is back in the Division I district finals for the second time in three seasons.

The Elks outscored Tecumseh 23-5 in the third quarter en route to a 71-40 victory in a D-I district semifinal game on Monday night at the Vandalia Butler Student Activities Center.

“I thought we did a great job of clamping down on defense in the third quarter, which led to us scoring easier shots,” said Elks coach Adam Priefer. “When we can play defense like that, we’re able to score easier. It makes it easier, your offense doesn’t have to be amazing if you can turn them over and get breaks and hit some shots in transition. I thought we did a nice job of that.”

ExploreCarroll, Trotwood-Madison advance to district finals

Centerville senior Amy Velasco scored a game-high 24 points for the Elks, which advanced to face Lebanon in a district final game at a time to be determined on Saturday at Princeton High School. Sophomore Kendal George scored 15 points and junior Cotie McMahon added 11 as Centerville (21-2) won its 14th straight game.

Senior Terah Harness and junior Mae Mastin each scored 11 points for Tecumseh, which finished its season 18-6.

The Arrows pulled to within three points at 20-19 on a 3-pointer by Gabrielle Russell early in the second quarter. The Elks countered with a 12-4 run that included five straight points by Velasco. Centerville took a 39-29 lead into halftime.

“The kids did a great job of responding,” Priefer said. “We weren’t hitting shots early and they were hitting shots. The game was tight, back-and-forth and in the second quarter we were able to go on a little bit of a run. We had a big really big spurt there in the third quarter.”

Velasco played with a sense of urgency, scoring 18 of her 24 points in the first half.

“She’s one of the best players in the state of Ohio, I don’t care what anyone wants to tell me,” Priefer said. “Her ability to distribute the ball, her leadership, her defense — she does everything so well for us. She’s got a great basketball IQ. She did a great job today.”

The Elks held the Arrows scoreless for more than six minutes in the third quarter, forcing turnovers in their half court defense. George hit three straight 3-pointers to give the Elks a 56-29 lead with 3:15 remaining in the quarter.

“Kendal is a heck of a shooter and we knew we couldn’t let her get open,” said Arrows coach Chasity Russell. “We couldn’t make a basket, we had too many turnovers, it was like all of our mistakes happened in that five minute span. It was tough and they capitalized on it. They’re a good team.”

The Arrows accomplished two of their biggest goals this season — winning the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division championship and two postseason tournament games, Russell said.

Of the six teams to play in the D-I district semifinals, Tecumseh was the only representative from outside the Greater Western Ohio Conference. The Elks beat the Arrows 100-80 in the regular season.

“We came up against a really good team that we played well during the season,” Russell said. “I knew it was going to be a tough matchup. It was a good season. We were 12-11 last year to 18-6, that’s a heck of an improvement.”

The Elks will advance to face former GWOC rival Lebanon, which beat Loveland 49-44 on Monday night. The Warriors fell to Loveland twice during Eastern Cincinnati Conference regular season play. Centerville beat Lebanon 64-48 last season in GWOC crossover division play.

The Elks are back in the D-I districts after falling to Springboro in a semifinal game last season.

“It’s great to get back,” Priefer said. “At this time of the year, it’s all about winning and trying to advance. We hope to keep playing as long as we can.”

Five GWOC teams played in the district semifinals on Monday night with three advancing to the district finals. Wayne beat Beavercreek 55-27 and Springboro beat Miamisburg 61-43.

“It’s a credit to the league,” Priefer said. “There’s great players and great coaches. It’s pretty awesome.”

In Other News