Badin girls punch ticket to regional, top WLS for district crown

Badin’s Grace Larkin covers West Liberty-Salem’s Gabby Hollar during Division III district play Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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Badin’s Grace Larkin covers West Liberty-Salem’s Gabby Hollar during Division III district play Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

Badin High School girls basketball coach Tom Sunderman had a meeting with senior forward Olivia Keene shortly before the tournament started in February.

Keene impressed Sunderman during her sophomore and junior seasons by coming away with loose balls and fighting for rebounds, and she eventually earned a starting spot because of it.

But Keene hadn’t played the same way for much of the regular season, and Sunderman told her she needed to step up in the postseason. Keene took the challenge to heart, and her improvement was evident Saturday.

Keene and Shelby Nusbaum scored 12 points apiece and helped Badin put together a strong defensive effort in a 48-39 win over West Liberty-Salem in a Division III district final at Springfield.

The Rams (19-7) advance to face Versailles, a 72-21 district winner over Bethel-Tate, in a regional semifinal at Springfield on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m.

Badin’s Macy Harper dribbles past Kelsey Day of West Liberty-Salem on Saturday during a Division III district final at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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Badin’s Macy Harper dribbles past Kelsey Day of West Liberty-Salem on Saturday during a Division III district final at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

“She’s back to her old way,” Sunderman said of Keene. “She started two or three weeks ago when we had some people sick. She’s been playing extremely strong all tournament. She can lead off the court, but she’s the kind of blue-collar, hard-working player that can lead on hustle plays, and people can feed off of that.”

Keene completed a three-point play with 2:10 left in the second quarter to give Badin a 16-14 lead, and she hit a basket with 20 seconds left to extend the lead to three points the break. The Rams went on a 16-7 run over the last six minutes of the third to take a 36-25 lead.

The Tigers cut their deficit to five points in the fourth, but Badin went on an 8-2 run over a four-minute period to secure the win.

“I knew we could still make a run at it, and that shows the competitiveness of our girls,” West Liberty-Salem coach Dennis McIntosh said. “But they just knocked down a bunch of tough shots, and we couldn’t overcome that.”

Keene and sophomore forward Emma Broermann dominated in the post by snatching rebounds and swatting away the Tigers’ penetration attempts. That forced West Liberty to rely on 3-pointers, which it couldn’t consistently make.

West Liberty-Salem’s Kelsey Day applies defensive pressure to Badin’s Olivia Keene on Saturday during a Division III district final at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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West Liberty-Salem’s Kelsey Day applies defensive pressure to Badin’s Olivia Keene on Saturday during a Division III district final at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

“They were knocking down 3s when they made it close, and then we went into man-to-man and we started face-guarding to stop their shooters,” Keene said.

“They’re a well-oiled machine,” Sunderman said. “They’re very well coached and have a solid program. But at this point, it comes down to who gets the loose ball and who finishes at the rim. If we do that, we have a fighting chance.

West Liberty-Salem finished 24-2. The Tigers will lose Lily Yoder and Mikalia McIntosh to graduation but will return nine players, including guard Kelsey Day, who scored a team-high 12 points.

“Mikalia’s been her for four years, and Lily’s been here for three,” Dennis McIntosh said. “This is one of the easiest groups to coach. They come to practice, work hard, and have smiles on their faces.”

Badin 8-10-18-12—48

West Liberty-Salem 10-5-10-14—39

BADIN (19-7): Shelby Nusbaum 3 5 12, Emily Maher 1 0 2, Grace Larkin 1 0 2, Lauren Krause 2 0 4, Olivia Keene 5 2 12, Macy Harper 4 0 8, Emma Broermann 2 0 4, Claire McCurley 2 0 4. Totals: 20-7-48

WEST LIBERTY-SALEM (24-2): Kelsey Day 4 1 12, Gabby Hollar 0 4 4, Paige Shafer 2 0 4, Lily Yoder 3 0 8, Mikalia McIntosh 3 0 7, Hallie Strapp 1 0 2, Taylor Lauck 0 2 2. Totals 13-7-39

3-pointers: B 1 (Nusbaum), W 6 (Day 3, Yoder 2, McIntosh)

Badin’s Emily Maher is about to go up for a shot Saturday during a Division III district final against West Liberty-Salem at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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Badin’s Emily Maher is about to go up for a shot Saturday during a Division III district final against West Liberty-Salem at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

Badin coach Tom Sunderman stares down an official after a foul call during a Division III district final against West Liberty-Salem on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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Badin coach Tom Sunderman stares down an official after a foul call during a Division III district final against West Liberty-Salem on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

West Liberty-Salem’s Lily Yoder dribbles with pressure from Badin’s Olivia Keene during a Division III district final on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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West Liberty-Salem’s Lily Yoder dribbles with pressure from Badin’s Olivia Keene during a Division III district final on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING

West Liberty-Salem senior Mikalia McIntosh dribbles during a Division III district final against Badin on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING
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West Liberty-Salem senior Mikalia McIntosh dribbles during a Division III district final against Badin on Saturday at Springfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY BRYANT BILLING