It took the entire boys basketball season, but Stivers got it together when it counts most.
Loaded with a youthful roster and having taken repeated Dayton City League lumps, unlikely Stivers (12-13) will play for a Division III high school basketball district championship at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against mighty Cincinnati Deer Park (24-0) at the University of Dayton Arena.
That’s the second of two D-III games. Versailles (21-4) and Cincinnati Madeira (17-7) will play in the 5:30 p.m. opener.
Stivers coach Felix Turner is in his third season with the Tigers, but previously was the longtime Meadowdale coach. The starting lineup includes freshman leading scorer Allen Latimore and sophomores Trevon Ellis (first team All-City), Doug Spear and Da’juan Allen.
“They just had to grow up,” Turner said. “They’re growing up emotionally and their basketball games are maturing. It was just a growth spurt that we had to go through.”
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Added to that mix is defensive stopper and senior Terry Matthews.
A No. 12 seed, Stivers rung up the first significant postseason upset by overwhelming No. 4 seed Madison 55-37. Madison (19-4) had won the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division and had brought a 15-game win streak into the playoff opener.
Stivers followed that with similar blowouts of Twin Valley South and Dayton Christian (18-6) in a sectional final.
“Now that they’ve had a little success in the tournament, it’s reinforcing the things they need to do to be a good basketball team,” said Turner.
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Versailles is led by senior Justin Ahrens. The 6-foot-6 Ohio State University signee leads the Tigers in scoring (25.3) and rebounding (8.1).
Versailles also has posted three blowout tournament wins after placing third in the Midwest Athletic Conference behind winner Marion Local and runner-up St. Henry. Both those MAC teams played in D-IV sectional semifinals at Wapakoneta on Tuesday in the Northwest District.
The winners advance to next week’s D-III regional semifinals at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
Either Dunbar (17-4) or Thurgood Marshall (9-14) will play in a D-II sectional final in a third game at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday at UD Arena. Dayton Public Schools contested Dunbar being disqualified by the Ohio High School Athletic Association for using an ineligible player. A court decision will determine which City League team plays Fenwick (17-6).
• The girls D-I and D-III regionals begin on Wednesday. Waynesville (23-1) is paired against Cincinnati Summit Country Day (26-0) at 6:15 p.m. at Springfield High School. Winners of the SWBL Buckeye Division, the Spartans have lost only to Ashland Paul Glazer 51-50 at Ironton.
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Versailles (25-1) will play Williamsburg (22-0) in the 8 p.m. second game. Versailles defeated Cincinnati Purcell Marian 53-48 on Monday. That district final was postponed from Saturday because of a Purcell Marian student’s death.
All area teams have been eliminated from the D-I field.