Girls Basketball: Mechanicsburg earns share of OHC North Division title

Cutline: Mechanicsburg High School sophomore Addie DeLong drives past Fairbanks' Anna Poling during their game on Wednesday night in Mechanicsburg. The Indians won 58-52, clinching a share of the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division title. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

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Cutline: Mechanicsburg High School sophomore Addie DeLong drives past Fairbanks' Anna Poling during their game on Wednesday night in Mechanicsburg. The Indians won 58-52, clinching a share of the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division title. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

MECHANICSBURG — A hand-painted purple and white sign hanging above the locker room in the Mechanicsburg High School gymnasium reads: “We walk through this door together!”

On Wednesday night, the Indians girls basketball team gave a total team effort on the court to beat Fairbanks 58-52 in a key Ohio Heritage Conference North Division game.

Mechanicsburg sophomore Olivia Skillings scored 15 points, junior Dani Schipfer had 14 and sophomore Emily Conley added 10 as the Indians won their seventh straight game.

“That’s truly how it’s been all season,” said Indians coach Christie Dodane. “It hasn’t always been the same kid that’s been the high scorer. They’re all contributing. If they’re not scoring, they’re contributing majorly on defense. That’s what we concentrate on and hang our hats on.”

With the win, the Indians (15-2, 12-1) clinched at least a share of their second OHC North title in three seasons. Mechanicsburg can clinch the title outright with one more victory in its final three conference games.

“I’m proud of them,” Dodane said. “They play hard and everything I ask them, they don’t question, they just play. That’s what you gotta have. Do we have any superstars? No. We’ve got hard-nosed, tough kids that know how to get after it and that’s fun.”

The Indians jumped out to a 31-16 lead in the first half, but the Panthers went on a 9-3 run to end the second quarter to cut the lead to 34-25 at the half.

Mechanicsburg opened the second half in a 1-2-2 halfcourt trap, forcing turnovers that led to easy buckets in transition. The Indians led by as many as 14 points in the second half.

“We didn’t get over the hump I felt like and take control,” Dodane said. “We did in the beginning just good enough to get the lead, but not good enough to continue and extend it. I just think we were off tonight.”

The Panthers (14-5, 10-4), however, hung around. They cut the lead to four points at 56-52 on a 3-pointer by junior Elaina Lahmers with about 20 seconds remaining, but couldn’t get any closer.

Schipfer hit two free throws with 15 seconds left to seal the game.

“I told the kids I was proud of them because even though it wasn’t our best game, good teams find a way to win,” Dodane said, “and I felt like that’s what we did. We found a way to win.”

The Indians could receive a top-four seed in the upcoming Division IV tournament draw. They’re seeking their first Division IV district appearance since 2020. The Indians are in the same sectional bracket as defending state champion Fort Loramie and D-IV 10th-ranked Russia.

“It’s a tall order going up to Shelby County,” Dodane said. “It’ll go like it always does — Fort Loramie goes to one side and all the rest of us will have a dog fight on the other side.”

The Indians have four games in six days, beginning Feb. 2 at Northeastern. They travel to rival West Liberty-Salem on Feb. 3 before returning home for back-to-back games against Cedarville (Feb. 5) and Franklin Monroe (Feb. 7).

“We don’t want to share (the title),” Dodane said. “We’re going to concentrate on winning out and going into the tournament and doing the best we can.”

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