March is right around the corner and that means that postseason basketball is ratcheting up. The girls of Clermont County are beginning their second seasons this week with everything on the line. Win or go home.
Three schools saw their seasons come to an end on Monday night as Glen Este, Bethel-Tate and Clermont Northeastern were bounced from the sectional tournament. The other seven teams are hoping to buck the trend as they take the floor later on this week.
Wednesday night will see Felicity, Batavia and Milford all take the floor against a staunch lineup of opponents.
Felicity will face the 18-2 regular-season Southern Buckeye Conference National Division champion Georgetown Lady G-Men.
Felicity, seeded No. 10 in the Division III bracket, will play the top-seeded Lady G-Men at Wilmington at 7 p.m.
Batavia doesn’t have a walk in the park in their Division II first-round match-up, either, facing the No. 1-seeded Indian Hill Braves seed at 6 p.m. at Withrow High School.
The Milford Lady Eagles, seeded No. 14, play No. 7-seeded McAuley at 7:30 p.m. Milford is 13-5 on the season and McAuley is 12-6.
Later on in the week, Williamsburg, Goshen, New Richmond and Amelia will put their seasons on the line.
The New Richmond Lady Lions, seeded No. 3 in Division II, will play the No. 9 seeded Ross Rams on Thursday, February 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Lions come into the postseason playing some of their best basketball of the year, winning seven of their last eight games.
“I thought it was a dream season,” New Richmond coach Brad Hatfield said. “Winning 16 games, we don’t get an opportunity to do that very much here.
“We had some quality wins and broke through some barriers, achieved a lot of goals and we couldn’t be happier.”
If the Lady Lions are able to get by Ross, they would face the winner of Norwood and Talawanda, which Hatfield expects to be no easy task.
“It’s a tougher tournament this year,” he said. “With Talawanda, Western Brown and Mount Healthy all in the same sectional, the competition level has risen.”
Hatfield has had a chance to scout the Rams and was impressed with their athleticism and ability to get out in transition, but he feels like with four seniors suiting up and playing for their proverbial lives, his team will pull through.”
“Our underclassmen will make every effort to help the seniors and hopefully we can make a run,” Hatfield said.
Also playing on Thursday, the 16th is Amelia, facing the No. 6-seeded Winton Woods Warriors. Amelia will have their hands full as the Warriors have gone 19-1 in the regular season.
Both Goshen and Williamsburg were able to get byes through the first round of the tournament, which could be an advantage or disadvantage depending upon whom you ask.
The Williamsburg Lady Wildcats will face Greeneview on Saturday, February 18 at 11 a.m. at Wilmington.
“I thought the kids played well this year,” Williamsburg coach Ken Lowe said. “We played in spurts – started 1-4, finished 12-2 – so after a disappointing start, the kids picked it up.
“We averaged about 50 points per game while only giving up 30, so the kids played well, but this is a new season for everyone now and we have to be ready to play.”
Lowe said he believed the draw was fair and the Lady Wildcats got the seed he had expected them to.
The Lady Wildcats are led by a pair of seniors, Tara Dennis and Heidi McManus, who Lowe expects to rise to the occasion.
“Both of them mean a lot to the program,” he said. “Tara has been steady for us offensively and Heidi has really stepped up defensively, getting to second in the city in steals, but of course they can’t do anything without the other three players on the court.”
Lowe had some concerns about the early 11 a.m. start time, but he said both teams have to deal with it and when the ball is tipped, it’s go time.
Finally, Goshen will face the same Mount Healthy team that defeated Bethel-Tate on February 11, 57-43.
“I don’t think our league gets the respect it deserves from the outsiders,” Goshen coach Dave Mason said. “We’ve seen Mount Healthy and I like our chances of getting to the sectional final. We really respect Western Brown and I think we can match up with Indian Hill.
“The bye was nice for us because it allowed us to get healthy, so that worked out well.”
The Lady Tigers have seven seniors on their team led by Kelsi Steele and Mason is confident that his group has what it takes to make a run.
“Kelsi has been our glue coming in and we knew she would be a key to our success,” he said. “Allie Jeandreavin and Courtney Taylor have played unbelievably and if we can get (Jessica) Wilcher healthy, I think we have a good chance.”
The Lady Tigers play Mount Healthy at Withrow on Tuesday, February 21 at 6 p.m.