For three quarters, the Tecumseh High School girls basketball hung with Division I powerhouse Centerville.
In the final eight minutes, the Elks lived up to their No. 3 ranking in the D-I girls basketball state poll.
Centerville scored 25 points in the fourth quarter, pulling away from the Arrows en route to a 73-56 nonconference victory on Monday night in New Carlisle.
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Elks freshman Cotie McMahon had 23 points, while senior Sam Chable had 17 and sophomore Amy Velasco had 15 as the Elks (17-1) won their seventh straight game.
“We knew coming in this was a tough place to play,” said Centerville coach Adam Priefer. “I thought for at least the first three quarters they did a really good job of neutralizing things that we wanted to do. They hit a lot of shots.”
Tecumseh senior Corinne Thomas had 28 points and senior Presley Griffits had 21 for the Arrows (11-5), who dropped their second straight game.
“(Centerville) is a great game, we can’t take anything away from them,” said Tecumseh coach Danielle Thomas. “We weren’t sure if we could pull out a W, but we wanted to compete and I thought we did a great job of doing that. I thought only for about six minutes did we kind of lose our defensive assignments and that was the difference in the score at the end.”
Tecumseh led 14-5 with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter, but the Elks went on a 6-0 run to end the period to make it 14-11. Centerville pushed the ball in transition, finding both open layups and open 3-pointers throughout the game.
“We try to make it a full-court game with our depth,” Priefer said.
The Elks made three straight 3-pointers to open the second quarter, including two by Chable, to take a 20-16 lead, forcing an Arrows timeout with about five minutes remaining in the first half.
Centerville took a 26-23 lead into the locker room. The Arrows briefly took the lead to start the third quarter, but an 8-0 run capped by an old-fashioned three-point play by McMahon.
The freshman was dominant in the high post against the Arrows zone defense and gave the Elks a spark in transition, taking the ball to the basket and finding her teammates for layups.
“She was able to do a lot of things for us, passing and distributing the ball and driving from the elbow, making things happen” Priefer said. “She did a really good job making adjustments as the game went on.”
The Arrows pulled to within four on a 3-pointer by Mackenzie Pauley at 43-39, but wouldn’t get any closer. Midway through the fourth quarter, Centerville lead by double digits down the stretch, scoring easy points in transition.
“(Centerville) is deeper,” Thomas said. “They’ve got more subs. I basically run six girls, I have three subs and they all play JV. They’ve got a full team. It challenges us. We beat up on some teams in our CBC league, so it’s fun to come play a team like Centerville and be able to compete with them.”
Tecumseh resumes Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Shawnee.
Centerville hosts Springfield on Wednesday before finishing its season on the road — at Beavercreek on Saturday, at Fairmont on Feb. 6 and at Wayne on Feb. 9, a stretch that will likely decide the Greater Western Ohio Conference National East Division champion.
The girls basketball tournament draw will also be held next week. Centerville should be in line for a top seed in D-I.
“It’s always an exciting time of the year,” Priefer said. “It’s the second season for everybody. Everybody is back to 0-0 and you play from there. It will be exciting.”
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