- Rick Cassano Staff Writer
The prep girls basketball tournament is nearly upon us, and 18 Journal-News-area schools found out their first-round opponents Sunday.
There are some impending blowouts for sure, but also some openers that could be very interesting. Here are five of them:
• Badin (15-5, No. 3 seed) vs. Alter (5-14, No. 9 seed), Division II at Lebanon, Thursday, Feb. 15, 6 p.m. — Fifteen wins vs. five doesn’t seem like much of a battle, but this Greater Catholic League Coed Division rematch is a little different.
Alter has fallen on hard times this year after capturing the last three state championships. Tradition, though, counts for something, and the proud Knights aren’t likely to go quietly in the tournament.
Badin had suffered 22 straight losses at the hands of Alter before winning 36-31 on Jan. 27. The Rams have been a postseason workhorse in Division III for a while — this is their first time in D-II since 2005.
• Hamilton (9-10, No. 17 seed) vs. West Clermont (13-7, No. 7 seed), Division I at Sycamore, Saturday, Feb. 17, 5 p.m. — Having the top scorer in the Greater Miami Conference is a good place to start for Big Blue. Junior forward CiCi Riggins is averaging 21.1 points per game.
If HHS can gain some confidence down the stretch, coach Harry Phillips has enough talent to compete with most teams in the draw. Hamilton finishes the regular season with games against Badin, Sycamore and Lakota East, and those results will tell a lot.
The first-year Wolves were created when Amelia and Glen Este merged. They haven’t played a GMC team all season and got blown out by Mount Notre Dame. But they’ve also had very competitive losses to Solon, Loveland, McAuley and Walnut Hills (twice).
• Fenwick (11-9, No. 6 seed) vs. Oakwood (11-9, No. 7 seed), Division II at Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 17, 11 a.m. — The Jills clearly wanted a rematch, having lost to Fenwick 51-43 on Jan. 22.
The Falcons haven’t had a winning season since going 11-10 in 2013-14. They’re on the rise under Scott Dalton, even with nobody scoring in double figures.
Fenwick does have one of the Greater Catholic League Coed Division’s top rebounders in senior Jenna Adams (8.9). Oakwood has a big scorer in junior guard Lauren Hapgood (16.9), who was limited to 11 points in the first meeting with the Falcons.
• Lakota East (4-15, No. 23 seed) vs. Oak Hills (6-14, No. 24 seed), Division I at Sycamore, Saturday, Feb. 17, 3 p.m. — OK, so it’s not exactly a state championship showdown. But comparable teams often have competitive matchups in the first round, and those games are welcomed in a sea of blowouts.
This does seem to be trending toward a contest worth watching. East swept Oak Hills during the Greater Miami Conference campaign, winning 58-30 on Dec. 2 and 43-34 on Jan. 24.
• Madison (10-9, No. 10 seed) vs. Dunbar (12-7, No. 11 seed), Division II at Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 17, 12:30 p.m. — Madison is on a roll, having won six of its last seven games.
The Mohawks are a dangerous team when the 3-ball is falling, and they have four players with at least 15 treys (Kenzi Saunders, Lillie Runnells, Lily Campbell, Jackie Kovscek).