Offensive woes lead to district defeat for Cincinnati Christian girls

Cincinnati Christian’s Grace Edmonston (with ball) has her path blocked by Jackson Center’s Alicia Kessler (42) and Kamryn Elchert (22) during Saturday afternoon’s Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF
Caption
Cincinnati Christian’s Grace Edmonston (with ball) has her path blocked by Jackson Center’s Alicia Kessler (42) and Kamryn Elchert (22) during Saturday afternoon’s Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF

Cincinnati Christian School’s girls basketball road may have ended in Troy, but the Cougars are hoping it was just the start of something big.

CCS had never made it to the Division IV district finals before Saturday afternoon, and the 37-26 loss to Jackson Center wasn’t easy to digest.

The future, though, looks bright for the Cougars, who have a considerable amount of young talent in the program.

“I’m excited to do this again next year and go even farther,” said junior forward Grace Edmonston, who had eight points, five rebounds and two steals for Cincinnati Christian (11-15). “I thought we played really hard today. We didn’t have a perfect game, but I don’t think anyone ever has.

“I was just super excited to be here for the first time in our school’s history. We’ll be back. You can bet on it.”

Jackson Center (21-4), a state semifinalist last season, never trailed and jumped to an 11-2 lead in the first eight minutes. CCS couldn’t get closer than seven the rest of the way.

The Tigers only shot 26.2 percent from the field, but sank six 3-pointers. Kamryn Elchert buried back-to-back triples to start the fourth period, giving her squad a 35-20 advantage.

“We needed a little bit more than what we had,” Cougars coach Paul Owens said. “We played well enough defensively to win the game, even though I thought we could’ve played even better defensively. We just couldn’t score.

“I don’t think it was for a lack of effort. I don’t think these people had any idea who they were playing, but I think they know that they had competition out there. I never want to lose, but if you compete and lose, I can deal with this much better than some of the games earlier in the year when I could hardly function.”

Jackson Center relied on its halfcourt man-to-man defense. The Tigers limited Cincinnati Christian to 37.9-percent shooting and earned a 30-23 edge on the glass.

As for Jackson Center’s shooting …

“Twenty-six percent is not something we’re proud of,” Tigers coach Jeff Reese said. “It’s a new floor, a lot of emotions, a lot of things going on. But when you can do that and still win, it’s a good sign.”

Elchert came up big with four treys and 14 points for the winners. Vanessa Winner and Alicia Kessler chipped in eight and seven points, respectively, and Cassie Meyer added seven boards, five steals and four assists.

Cincinnati Christian’s Hannah Randall (left) drives on Jackson Center’s Cassie Meyer on Saturday afternoon during a Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF
Caption
Cincinnati Christian’s Hannah Randall (left) drives on Jackson Center’s Cassie Meyer on Saturday afternoon during a Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF

“We had some players step up when we needed them,” Reese said. “Our game plan is to maintain for four quarters. We know the game’s not won in the first minute. As the game goes, we want to maintain our composure and intensity and, by the end, put ourselves in the best position to win.

“I watched several tapes on (CCS), and I didn’t pay attention to their record. What I cared about was their personnel, and they had some very nice players. We knew we weren’t going to stop them, but I thought we did a pretty good job of containing them.”

Freshman Lyric Harris paced Cincinnati Christian with 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals. Hannah Randall added five points and three boards.

“We’re proud of ourselves for making it this far,” said Randall, a junior guard. “We came in knowing that we were the underdogs, so we tried to push through and play harder. I thought we did that. They just started hitting more shots in the second half, and we couldn’t catch up.”

Edmonston felt some of the Cougars were nervous before the game, but she didn’t think it was a lingering issue.

“That was a really physical game,” Edmonston said. “They play good defense, they stick with basics, and I think they just slowly wore us down.”

CCS is losing four seniors: Allie Statzer, Kylee Miller, Anna Holder and Cameron Worthington. Miller and Holder were not in attendance Saturday because of other obligations.

Cincinnati Christian’s Allie Statzer tries to dribble around Jackson Center’s Vanessa Winner on Saturday afternoon during a Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF
Caption
Cincinnati Christian’s Allie Statzer tries to dribble around Jackson Center’s Vanessa Winner on Saturday afternoon during a Division IV district final at Troy. MARC PENDLETON/STAFF

“I think it’s very positive that we did right ourselves and play the way we’re capable of playing later in the season,” said Owens, whose squad finished with six wins in eight games. “I hope we build on playing with effort. We have a lot of our key players coming back, and if we come out and compete all year long, I think that will help us be in a better position to win these kind of games. You can’t really turn it off and on, although we kind of did that this year. Basketball isn’t played like that.”

Jackson Center will meet New Madison Tri-Village in a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. on Thursday at Vandalia Butler. Tri-Village rallied to beat Cedarville 49-42 on Saturday.

Cincinnati Christian 2-9-9-6—26

Jackson Center 11-10-8-8—37

CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (11-15): Hannah Randall 2 0 5, Tori Byndon 1 0 2, Lyric Harris 5 0 10, Grace Edmonston 3 2 8, Allie Statzer 0 1 1. Totals: 11-3-26

JACKSON CENTER (21-4): Kennadie Reese 0 2 2, Kamryn Elchert 5 0 14, Cassie Meyer 0 2 2, Vanessa Winner 2 2 8, Olivia Clark 1 0 2, Alicia Kessler 2 3 7, Christen Ware 1 0 2. Totals: 11-9-37

3-pointers: C 1 (Randall), J 6 (Elchert 4, Winner 2)