It was no surprise that Lakota West High School’s girls basketball team secured the No. 1 seed in the Division I Cincinnati sectional tournament draw Sunday afternoon at West.
It’s also no surprise that the Firebirds’ early trail is, well, not so difficult.
West (19-1) is in the Cincinnati I sectional at Lakota East and will open against Withrow (2-15), the No. 31 seed, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14.
Round 2? A third meeting with Greater Miami Conference foe and No. 32 seed Colerain (0-19), a 91-18 and 85-3 loser to the Firebirds this season.
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“We get to have good league games coming up with a really good Princeton team and then a really, really good Mason team,” Firebirds coach Andy Fishman said. “That will give us a good tune-up, then we’re back to starting the tournament. We’ll expand our roster a little. We’ll make good use of the 15 uniforms we have.”
West received all but one first-place nod in the seed voting by the coaches. The Firebirds were voted second by one coach behind Mount Notre Dame.
Who gave West the No. 2 vote? That, of course, was Withrow.
“Go figure,” Fishman said. “A strange sense of justice.”
Middletown (9-11) is also part of the Firebirds’ sectional and got thrashed 81-21 by West on Jan. 10.
Middies coach Kevin Aldridge wants to win a tournament game and get to the sectional finals as the 18th seed, and Middletown can do that by defeating either No. 15 Little Miami (13-7) or No. 20 Anderson (8-12) at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 at East.
“When you’re in these moments — this is my third one as a head coach — you try to figure out what’s going to be the best possible spot for your girls,” Aldridge said. “You know your team. You’re looking at dates, scenarios, starting times. For us, I think having a little more time between our last game and the tournament will help us refocus and get ourselves together.”
He isn’t thinking about a possible sectional-title matchup against West.
“That’s an issue unto itself,” said Aldridge, laughing. “Our first goal is to prepare for either Little Miami or Anderson. That’s two quality opponents we’ll be waiting to see who we get the winner of, and we’ll look forward to that.”
MND (18-4) is the No. 2 seed. Rounding out the top 10 are No. 3 Mason (17-3), No. 4 Walnut Hills (19-1), No. 5 McAuley (16-3), No. 6 Loveland (17-2), No. 7 West Clermont (13-7), No. 8 Princeton (11-7), No. 9 Wilmington (17-2) and No. 10 Fairfield (10-9).
Fairfield coach David Loper went into MND’s Cincinnati 4 sectional at Sycamore. The Indians will play No. 19 Seton (9-11) on Feb. 17 at 11 a.m., and if the seeds hold true, then No. 27 St. Ursula (4-16) on Feb. 21.
Loper said tournament wins are important, even if the tradeoff for some favorable matchups is a sectional final against a team like Mount Notre Dame. Scott Rogers’ Cougars beat Fairfield 77-30 on Dec. 18.
“Scott’s a friend of mine and, yes, he’s pummeled me once before,” Loper said. “When you get to the sectional final, you’re going to play somebody really good. We’re extremely happy with our seeding and the draw. If the kids play hard and get a couple wins and we have to strap it up with MND, it starts off 0-0, so you never know.”
Here is a list of first-round games for remaining teams in the Journal-News coverage area:
Badin (15-5) — Seeded third in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 9 Alter (5-14) on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m.
Carlisle (8-12) — Seeded 12th in the Division III Covington sectional. Faces No. 11 Dayton Christian (11-9) on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7:30 p.m.
Cincinnati Christian (7-14) — Seeded third in the Division IV Monroe sectional. Faces No. 7 Southeastern (6-14) on Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
Edgewood (11-9) — Seeded 12th in the Division I Dayton 1 sectional at Troy. Faces No. 9 Vandalia Butler (13-7) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2:30 p.m.
Fenwick (11-9) — Seeded sixth in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 7 Oakwood (11-9) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m.
Franklin (16-5) — Seeded fifth in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 3 Badin (15-5) or No. 9 Alter (5-14) on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.
Hamilton (9-10) — Seeded 17th in the Division I Cincinnati 5 sectional at Sycamore. Faces No. 7 West Clermont (13-7) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 5 p.m.
Lakota East (4-15) — Seeded 23rd in the Division I Cincinnati 4 sectional at Sycamore. Faces No. 24 Oak Hills (6-14) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m.
Lebanon (17-3) — Seeded third in the Division I Dayton 1 sectional at Troy. Faces No. 7 Tecumseh (16-5) or No. 8 Northmont (9-9) on Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.
Madison (10-9) — Seeded 10th in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 11 Dunbar (12-7) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 12:30 p.m.
Middletown Christian (4-15) — Seeded ninth in the Division IV Monroe sectional. Faces No. 2 Cedarville (16-4) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 2 p.m.
Monroe (14-6) — Seeded fourth in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 12 Clinton-Massie (6-13) on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 7:30 p.m.
New Miami (0-14) — Seeded 11th in the Division IV Monroe sectional. Faces No. 1 Legacy Christian (17-2) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 11 a.m.
Ross (3-15) — Seeded 14th in the Division II Lebanon sectional. Faces No. 8 Chaminade Julienne (8-11) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m.
Talawanda (7-12) — Seeded 22nd in the Division I Cincinnati 5 sectional at Sycamore. Faces No. 9 Wilmington (17-2) on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m.