- Rick Cassano Staff Writer
It’s another season with a not-so-great record and a not-so-easy schedule for Cincinnati Christian School’s girls basketball team.
Maybe — just maybe — the Cougars are gearing up for another Division IV tournament run.
CCS put up an 8-14 regular-season mark last season and made it to the district finals for the first time. This year’s Cougars are 7-13 overall and 6-8 in the Miami Valley Conference Scarlet Division after Wednesday night’s 47-38 road loss to Norwood.
“We play a relatively difficult schedule for a Division IV school,” Cincinnati Christian coach Paul Owens said. “I’m very optimistic about the tournament. That’s why we schedule those games. We just lost to the second-place team in our league … as you can see, we’re competitive. We just don’t play consistently.”
GIRLS BASKETBALL: Lebanon 52, Fairfield 49 (OT)
BOYS BASKETBALL: Madison 68, Middletown Christian 50
Owens said Cedarville and Legacy Christian should be the top two teams in the Monroe sectional tournament draw Sunday, but he believes the Cougars can advance to the sectional finals and take their best shot at one of them.
“There’s no telling where we’re going to get seeded,” Owens said. “Last year, one team seeded us five spots behind a team that we beat by 30 during the season. There’s two really good teams in our sectional and anybody else I’d be happy to play, so it really doesn’t matter where we get seeded.”
Freshman guard Aaliyah Johnson, who totaled 20 points and 12 rebounds Wednesday, said the Cougars can make another postseason run “if we do what we’re supposed to do and play 110 percent and just play our hearts out.”
Cincinnati Christian started and finished strong against Division II Norwood. The visitors were up 15-6, then scored 10 of the game’s last 12 points.
The rest wasn’t so good for CCS, which tallied 6 total points in the middle two quarters and managed just one field goal during a 21-minute stretch.
“I’m actually not overly discouraged,” Owens said. “I didn’t think there was a time when we weren’t getting good opportunities. We just had a hard time making shots.
“I really think we had the better opportunities at the basket. Some of the shots they made appeared to be difficult-looking shots, running one-handers and stuff like that. In girls basketball, those usually don’t go in.”
The Indians (14-5, 12-2) got double-digit scoring from Ryan Williams (16) and Caitlin Streaker (10). Maddy Whitmore and Lilly Peter added some strong board work with 17 and 12 rebounds, respectively, as Norwood extended its winning streak to eight.
“Cincinnati Christian was really hot in the first quarter,” Indians coach Michael Moyers said of watching his team fall behind at the outset. “These kids cause me to have heart failure because they’ve done that numerous times. We’ll come out and be unable to hit shots and fall behind, but they work so hard defensively. And once they figure it out, they grind.”
Norwood was up 45-28 in the last two minutes before the Cougars reeled off 10 straight points. But the 45-38 margin didn’t materialize until the final 16 seconds, and the Indians’ Holly Borgemenke responded with two free throws.
The charity stripe was very good to Norwood, which sank 18 of 21 foul shots.
“We’re playing really well as a team,” said Moyers, in his fifth year at the Indians helm. “We’ve overcome adversity with injuries and things like that, and I want to give all the credit to the girls. They’re the ones working hard every day and buying in, so I’m really proud of them.”
Freshman Briahna Bush had 8 points and 12 boards for CCS, which lost last year’s leading scorer to a transfer. Lyric Harris is a sophomore at Roger Bacon this season.
Johnson is the Cougars’ offensive leader in 2017-18, averaging 12.7 points per contest. Asked to describe her game, she said simply, “Hustle and pride.”
Owens said his squad’s effort level Wednesday wasn’t quite as high as it’s been recently, “but it was good enough. I thought we competed. If we play like that in the tournament, we’ll be fine.”
Both teams will play at home Saturday afternoon, Cincinnati Christian against Summit Country Day and Norwood against Cincinnati Country Day.
Cincinnati Christian 15-2-4-17—38
CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (7-13, 6-8 MVC Scarlet): Aaliyah Johnson 6 6 20, Hannah Randall 0 2 2, Katie Snyder 1 1 3, Grace Edmonston 2 1 5, Briahna Bush 3 2 8. Totals: 12-12-38
NORWOOD (14-5, 12-2 MVC Scarlet): Ryan Williams 6 4 16, Hannah Berling 1 1 3, Holly Borgemenke 1 4 6, Lilly Peter 1 6 8, Maddy Whitmore 1 2 4, Caitlin Streaker 4 1 10. Totals: 14-18-47
3-pointers: C 2 (Johnson 2), N 1 (Streaker)