WILMINGTON — A 21-1 first half run propelled the East Clinton girls basketball team to a 66-38 win over Finneytown Tuesday night in a Division III sectional tournament game at Fred Summers Court.
East Clinton (18-4) advances to the district semifinals at 1 p.m. Saturday at FSC against Madeira, who defeated Williamsburg 34-29 in overtime Tuesday night.
“I thought we played pretty well overall,” EC head coach Bill Bean said. “I thought the girls were focused and ready to go. That first tournament game is always the toughest, especially when (Finneytown) already had one under their belts.
“I know some coaches don’t like the bye. But I think, to get to Springfield, it’s easier to win two games than three games.”
Finneytown (9-10), which defeated Blanchester on Saturday to open the tournament, got off to a decent start, holding a 5-4 lead with 5:40 left in the first quarter.
However, the Astro offensive attack started to heat up. Over the next eight minutes, EC outscored FHS 23-1.
The run pushed East Clinton’s lead to 27-6 with 5:33 left in the second quarter.
The Wildcats never threatened the Astros the rest of the way, but they kept the deficit between 15 and 20 points until a late 19-6 EC run pushed the margin to 35 points, invoking the running-clock rule.
Kelsi Lilly, the lone senior on the East Clinton squad, led the Astros with 19 points and six rebounds.
“I thought Kelsi Lilly really stepped up and played well,” Bean said. “She told me after the game, ‘I don’t want it to end.’ When you get to this point, you know that when you lose one, it’s over. She led us tonight.”
Libby Evanshine and Kami Whiteaker had 13 points each. Evanshine added nine rebounds, seven assists, three steals and four blocks. Jordan Collom had eight points and eight rebounds.
“I thought all five of our starters played really well,” Bean said. “And Jayden (Murphy), Jozie (Jones) and Megan Tong all came in and played well too.”
Ranlei Freeman had an impressive game for the Wildcats in defeat. She had 23 points and eight rebounds. She was 9 of 23 from the floor. The rest of Finneytown’s team was 6 of 35.
“(Freeman) is a very good ballplayer,” Bean said. “She had 23, but I still think we did a decent job defensively on her.”
Before Saturday’s district semifinal, the Astros will get one more tune-up game in the Bud Phillips SBAAC Crossover game Thursday at American Division champion Western Brown.
Then the focus will shift to Saturday’s showdown. It will be the first meeting of the season against Madeira for a spot in the district championship.
“I saw Madeira play last Saturday,” Bean said. “They’ve got a nice team too. They play in a pretty good league. We’ll have our hands full.”
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022
At Fred Summers Court
East Clinton 66, Finneytown 38
(38) FINNEYTOWN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Macey Moore 1-0-1-3, Hailey Rozier 2-0-1-5, Ranlei Freeman 9-1-4-23, Leah Fulton 3-1-0-7. TOTALS 15-2-6-38.
(66) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Jordan Collom 3-2-0-8, Libby Evanshine 5-0-3-13, Kami Whiteaker 5-3-0-13, Lauren Runyon 4-0-0-8, Jozie Jones 1-0-0-2, Kelsi Lilly 9-1-0-19, Jayden Murphy 1-1-0-3. TOTALS 28-7-3-66.
FIELD GOALS: F 15/58 (Freeman 9/23); EC 28/50 (Lilly 9/14, Evanshine 5/10, Whiteaker 5/8, Runyon 4/6)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: F 2/13; EC 7/16 (Whiteaker 3/5, Collom 2/3)
FREE THROWS: F 6/12 (Freeman 4/7); EC 3/8
REBOUNDS: F 30 (Freeman 8, Fulton 6, Rozier 5); EC 41 (Evanshine 9, Collom 8, Lilly 6, Runyon 5, Murphy 5)
ASSISTS: F 4; EC 16 (Evanshine 7, Collom 3, Whitaker 3)
STEALS: F 10 (Fulton 4, Moore 3); EC 9 (Evanshine 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: F 3 (Rozier 2); EC 7 (Evanshine 4, Whiteaker 2, Murphy 1)
TURNOVERS: F 15; EC 18
Matt Sexton covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @MattSextonPxP.