Its lineup loaded, the Centerville High School girls basketball team hoists a big target with maximum pride.
“It’s a good experience for us,” said senior Alexis Hutchison following a 61-46 impression on host Kenton Ridge on Thursday night. “Our coach always says we’re everybody’s biggest rival and I think that’s really great.”
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This was a non-league matchup of two of the area’s best-established programs and was borne out of the friendship between veteran Elks coach Adam Priefer and former Cougars coach Ed Foulk, who has since retired and was succeeded by Matt McCurdy in 2017.
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Centerville (11-1) is No. 1 team in area’s Division I power rankings and has separated itself from the rest of the Greater Western Ohio Conference. The win was a rebound of sorts for Centerville, which had a 10-game win streak snapped by Bishop Noll Institute of Hammond, Ind., in a holiday tournament.
Kenton Ridge (6-3) is looking to re-establish itself as a major D-II player and push Tecumseh for Central Buckeye Conference bragging rights. Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North rivals Alter, Carroll and Chaminade Julienne for former CBC power Tippecanoe have dominated the D-II area postseason of late, but before then it was Kenton Ridge.
“They were a really good, aggressive and physical team,” said Kenton Ridge 6-foot-2 senior Mikala Morris, who scored a game-high 22 points. “If we can compete with teams as good as Centerville, we can compete with anybody.”
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That’s the Cougars’ hoped-for end result of playing up in games such as this to better prepare for the postseason. It was the fourth consecutive season the teams have played, all Centerville wins.
Hutchison led Centerville with 14 points and the Elks had an 8-1 advantage in 3-pointers. Kenton Ridge closed within single digits in the fourth quarter, but Centerville senior Sam Chable connected on a pair of 3-pointers to secure the win.
Chabel had three 3-pointers for nine points. Freshman center Cotie McMahon also had nine points and was charged with preventing Morris from going off. Morris owns many of the Kenton Ridge single-season and career records and again leads the CBC in scoring (22.6), rebounding (22.9) and blocks (4.8). She signed with Quinnipiac (Conn.).
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Senior Mallery Armentrout added 12 points for the Cougars.
“There’s nothing to hang our heads about,” McCurdy said. “When you’ve got girls who are going to go play (NCAA) Division I and II, that’s what happens. I don’t see an easy out the rest of the way. If we can build off this, we can compete with anybody.”
Kenton Ridge hosts Shawnee (4-5) on Saturday and Greeneview (9-2) of the Ohio Heritage Conference on Monday. Games against Northmont and CJ also are looming.
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Centerville hosts Bellbrook on Saturday. There also are upcoming road showdowns at Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame (8-1) and Tecumseh (5-2) and another GWOC National East round.
“It’s fun to play different teams in the area and different divisions,” Priefer said. “You try and play the best teams you can. Everybody is going to give us their best shot regardless of our record every time. This year, teams are focused on playing very well against us and we have to be ready to take that every night.”
SATURDAY’S BEST GIRLS BETS
CBC: Jonathan Alder (7-2) at Tecumseh (5-2), 7:30 p.m.
CCC: Arcanum (9-4) at Covington (10-1), noon
MBC: Legacy Christian (9-1) at Miami Valley (7-2), 5:30 p.m.
SWBL: Monroe (8-2) at Franklin (8-2), 1:15 p.m.
Non-league: Fairmont (6-4) at Toledo Notre Dame (8-3), 1 p.m.
Non-league: Versailles (9-2) at Tippecanoe (7-3), 7:30 p.m.
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