MONROE — Rhyan Pater is sure there are better days ahead for Cincinnati Christian School’s girls basketball program.
Wednesday night wasn’t so good for the Cougars, who nearly got blanked in the first half and took a 40-12 beating from South Charleston Southeastern in a Division IV sectional opener at Monroe.
Yet Pater, a junior forward, said the best word to describe the team heading into the offseason is “hopeful.”
“We’re not going to get super down on ourselves for this game because I think for the most part we did what we could do and kind of laid it all out there,” she said. “It was definitely a rebuilding year. It was just a lot of trying to get used to each other, so I think that’s why it was hard to pull out a bunch of wins. But I think overall, we’re all keeping our heads high. Next year’s going to be a lot better.”
CCS finished 5-18 in Terrence Mitchell’s first season as head coach, ending the year with six consecutive losses. But the Cougars are losing just one senior, Jillian Miller.
Mitchell said his roster was loaded with inexperience and players who had to change roles this season.
“It’s part of the rebuilding process. Sometimes you’re going to have more hiccups than victories,” Mitchell said. “We’re going to have at least 12 girls that are going to come back next year, so it was good for them to go through this experience and see how it is. Maybe in the offseason they’ll go out and take care of their business and work on a lot of different stuff they need to.
“There’s a difference coming from Fairfield to CCS. Fairfield’s a public school. You’ve got more ready-made basketball players and a lot of their players train, they play AAU. When I came to CCS, we had one girl that played AAU. But I think the attitudes here are changing. Even when you’re playing other sports, you always have to keep a ball in your hands. If you don’t, this is what the result is.
“I’m keeping my head held high for the season. I’ll just say, ‘Go Cougars.’ We’ll be back next year and hopefully we’ll have a better product.”
Seventh-seeded Cincinnati Christian managed just four field goals and converted 3-of-12 free throws against No. 6 Southeastern (11-12), which scored the game’s first 20 points.
Miller’s layup ended the CCS drought with 1:21 left in the second quarter. It was 20-2 at halftime.
“I think a lot of it had to do with spacing,” Mitchell said of his team’s shooting woes. “When we did have a good shot, we just didn’t execute. We didn’t put ourselves in position to get offensive rebounds.
“They took advantage of that and got us in transition a few times. After that, it was over. If you can’t make shots and they’re in transition every time scoring, it’s a recipe for disaster.”
Miranda Heid and Caila Nagel led the Cougars with three points apiece. Pater grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
“I thought we did a really good job on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor,” Southeastern coach Matt Harner said. “We actually were able to score and execute the game plan.”
Emily Wical (seven points, seven rebounds) and Laney Mills (six points, five boards) paced the balanced Trojans. They’re on a four-game winning streak.
“The one thing we’ve really done well for the most part is defend,” Harner said. “We’re pesky like gnats and hound the crap out of you. We weren’t able to do that at the beginning of the year. We’ve had to work them into that role, but we’ve finally caught on.”
Fayetteville-Perry 55, Middletown Christian 13: The Eagles never led and totaled just five field goals, finishing the year with a 7-15 record.
Trinity Bellard had a team-high six points for No. 8 seed MCS, while Ellie Veal snared nine rebounds.
“We did not look very good today,” Middletown Christian coach Ken Yablonsky said. “We couldn’t score and couldn’t stop their bigs. They’re bigger. They’re stronger. They hit their outside shots left and right.
“We’d drive the lane and just throw up something. We knew we were in for an uphill battle, but that’s not typically how we want to run our offense. We had a couple players under the weather, which isn’t an excuse.”
Fourth-seeded Fayetteville (12-10) got 16 points from Olivia Crawford, and 13 points and nine boards from Kelbee Coffman. Veteran Rockets coach Toby Sheets, in his 31st year at the helm, said his squad is 6-1 in February.
“We’re playing our best basketball right now,” he said. “We had some girls injured, but we’re back to full-go now. We’re eight deep. We’ve got a good, solid eight. I’m happy with where we’re at right now, but we’re not going to get complacent or cocky. We’re going to get back to work.”
Sheets said he’s eager to get his team back in the gym after Thursday’s makeup game at Blanchester. Fayetteville will return to Monroe on Tuesday to face Southeastern at 7:30 p.m.
“I like to spend a lot of time in practice on shooting,” Sheets said. “To me, that’s about as important as anything right now. A lot of coaches spend all their time on game situations, but my feeling is if you don’t know the offenses and defenses and inbounds plays by now, you’re not going to learn them. You’ve got to spend some time shooting the ball and doing shooting drills.”
The Eagles will only be losing one senior, Anna Crawford, to graduation. Yablonsky, the MCS head coach for three seasons, said the seven-win campaign was a success coming off a 4-19 record.
“It gives us something to build on for the future,” he said. “I’ve got four freshmen who got significant playing time for the past couple weeks. I’ve got a sophomore who started all season, and I’ve got a very talented junior class.
“We’ll do some things in the summer, and that’s something. Middletown Christian hasn’t always had the cohesiveness to be able to do things in the offseason and this group has bought into that, which is good for the program.
“This group is a joy to be around. They battle and buy into the system. That’s why I’m doing this thing.”
Cincinnati Christian 0-2-5-5—12
SOUTHEASTERN (11-12): Laney Mills 3 0 6; Leslie Flores 2 1 5; Lily Hudson 1 0 3; Tatum Monahan 0 1 1; Emily Wical 3 1 7; Peyton Isaac 2 0 5; Trinity Cline 1 0 2; Lily Bertemes 1 0 2; Uxue Ruiz De Olano 1 2 4; Raelyn Severt 1 3 5. Totals: 15-8-40
CINCINNATI CHRISTIAN (5-18): Miranda Heid 1 1 3; Jillian Miller 1 0 2; Cari’a Thacker 1 0 2; Anna Armour 0 1 1; Caila Nagel 1 0 3; Mariah Shakespeare 0 1 1. Totals: 4-3-12
3-pointers: S 2 (Hudson, Isaac), C 1 (Nagel)
Middletown Christian 6-2-2-3—13
FAYETTEVILLE-PERRY (12-10): Cecilia Murphy 1 2 4; Olivia Crawford 7 2 16; Hannah Wiederhold 1 0 2; Taylor Malone 2 0 4; Kelbee Coffman 5 0 13; Kasey Wallace 2 0 5; Paige Lockwood 1 0 2; Brinli Crosley 4 1 9. Totals: 23-5-55
MIDDLETOWN CHRISTIAN (7-15): Ellie Veal 1 0 2; Trinity Bellard 2 1 6; Lacy Castle 0 1 1; Ari Pagnard 1 0 2; Grace Bennett 1 0 2. Totals: 5-2-13
3-pointers: F 4 (Coffman 3, Wallace), M 1 (Bellard)
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