Princeton’s Kelsey Mitchell is good enough to beat any player in the country one-on-one. That’s why Centerville slowed her with four.
Utilizing a rotation on the nation’s top junior point guard prospect, Centerville beat the Vikings 71-61 in the Division I girls basketball regional semifinals at Wright State’s Nutter Center on Wednesday to advance to the program’s first regional final.
Centerville will face Fairmont, a 67-63 OT winner over Mason, Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Nutter Center.
“We knew (Mitchell) was going to score,” Centerville coach Adam Priefer said. “Our goal was to just stay in front of her and not let her have one of those crazy nights where she has 40.”
Mitchell scored 28, but the quartet of Spencer Gray, Bethany Krause, Naddiyah Cross and Maggie Schutter all spent time hounding her.
“We kept throwing different people at her and kept her guessing,” Gray said.
After allowing a season-high 23 points in the second quarter, Centerville held Princeton to four field goals through 14 minutes of second-half action. Seniors Alex Henning and Madison Rittinger each scored 19 for the Elks.
Fairmont, which advanced to its fifth straight regional final, was tested by Mason. The Firebirds trailed after every quarter and were behind 51-43 with 1:36 to play. A furious rally, capped by a Danie Schafer 3-pointer with 10 seconds left forced the extra period. Schafer finished with 16 points, while Kathryn Westbeld had 26. It was the third straight season Fairmont beat Mason in the regionals.
Saturday, the GWOC Central co-champs – who split during the regular season – meet for the third time. The Elks (26-1) have won 19 straight since losing 69-62 to Fairmont before Christmas. The Firebirds (24-1) have won 10 straight since losing 54-48 to Centerville on Jan. 23.
The meeting guarantees the GWOC Central will have a team in the D-I final four for the fourth straight season.
“It going to be a great environment (Saturday),” Priefer said. “It’s the match-up the world’s wanted to see.”