LEBANON — Franklin High School’s girls basketball team will start the postseason wearing the No. 1 bull’s-eye.
The Wildcats (16-3) earned the top seed Sunday in the Division II Lebanon sectional tournament voting, placing first on 13 of the 14 ballots. Coaches can’t vote for themselves, so Franklin coach John Rossi gave the No. 1 nod to Valley View.
“I think the coaches in our sectional gave us a lot of respect, and that was pretty nice to see,” Rossi said. “With our body of work throughout the course of the year, I felt like we deserved the top seed.
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“We were fortunate that the draw came out the way we were hoping. Not so much anticipating, because a lot of times it’s so balanced and there’s so many really good teams in there. You never know for sure how things will go.”
The Wildcats made it to the regional for the first time last season, losing to Bellbrook in the semifinals. The Golden Eagles went on to reach the state semifinals.
Valley View (15-5) got the No. 2 seed in Sunday’s voting, with Badin (13-6) third, Bellbrook (11-9) fourth and Monroe (10-7) fifth.
Franklin and Badin both went into the Lebanon 2 bracket. The next highest seed there is No. 7 Chaminade Julienne (7-11).
“We had to pick one of two poisons, either Roger Bacon in the districts or Franklin in the sectional,” Badin coach Tom Sunderman said of joining the Wildcats in Lebanon 2. “Johnny’s got a good team. We were both thinking the same thing. The ultimate goal for your team is to get to the regionals, and in order to get to the regionals, you’ve got to think of the path best for your team.
“No offense to Carroll or Franklin, but I think right now Roger Bacon is the team to beat in the region.”
The Wildcats will open against No. 14 Ross (2-18) on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 12:30 p.m. and would then have to beat No. 12 Thurgood Marshall (10-5) to reach the district semifinals (what used to be called the sectional finals).
Badin meets No. 13 Clinton-Massie (5-13) on Feb. 16 at 2 p.m., with CJ vs. No. 9 Fenwick (9-11) following at 3:30 p.m. Those two winners will then square off, and if the seeds hold true, it would be Badin vs. Franklin on Feb. 25.
Sunderman isn’t expecting an easy road for his Rams. If they get past C-M, a Greater Catholic League Coed Division rival will be waiting, and Badin has already lost to CJ this season.
“If our girls can buy in and play within the system, we’re pretty hard to beat,” Sunderman said. “There’s a couple games we’d like to have back. We know we lost four games by one possession. But the regular season is just a preseason to get ready for the tournament. Nobody remembers what you did during the regular season unless you do something in the tournament.”
Franklin is coming off a 57-31 victory at Ironton on Saturday.
“We contemplated taking the bye, to be very honest,” Rossi said. “We took the bye last year and it worked out real well for us. But we had an overnight trip and we talked to our kids a little bit, and they wanted to play. They didn’t want 10 days off. A couple of coaches wanted to take the bye, but ultimately we said, ‘Hey, we’re going to hop on Line 2 and play right away.’ ”
The Wildcats will be heavy favorites to advance to the third round, but Rossi said he’ll be taking everybody seriously, starting with Ross.
“Failure to prepare is preparing to fail — my dad taught me that a long time ago,” Rossi said. “Rodney (Parrett’s) been at Ross for a long time, and we’re going to do our homework and try to get ready for them. Ross is going to be a challenge.”
Six of the seven teams in the Lebanon 1 sectional have winning records. No. 11 Madison (7-12) is the only one that doesn’t, and the Mohawks will meet Valley View at 6 p.m. on Feb. 14.
The Valley View-Madison winner will play Monroe on Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. Monroe coach Chad Allen took the bye because his Hornets are dealing with multiple injuries.
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“We’re playing right now with either four people out or two people out and two people playing injured, so we’re sitting there thinking that we almost have to have a bye just to try to get healthy,” said Allen, mentioning Olivia Wells-Daniels (high ankle sprain), Brooke Frazier (broken ankle), Katie Sloneker (limited in returning from knee surgeries) and Sam Schwab (shin splints).
“We were 10-3 and in our mind probably heading to the No. 2 seed when all these injuries happened. Now we’ve lost four in a row,” he continued. “It was a coin flip between picking to play Franklin or Valley View. We just had to have that bye.”
Wells-Daniels is Monroe’s leading scorer (11.1) and rebounder (7.8). She hasn’t played since Jan. 10, but is expected to return this week. Allen said there’s a possibility that all four ailing players could be available for the Hornets’ tournament opener.
No. 6 Alter (10-9) vs. No. 8 Oakwood (10-9) and Bellbrook vs. No. 10 Dunbar (11-7) are the other two first-round matchups in the Lebanon 1 sectional.
All brackets are available online at www.swdab.org. Here are the first-round games for the remaining teams in the Journal-News coverage area:
Edgewood (9-11) — Seeded 15th in the Dayton 2 sectional at Troy. Will face No. 5 Springboro (11-8) or No. 14 Fairborn (8-10) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Fairfield (14-5) — Seeded ninth in the Cincinnati 2 sectional at Lakota East. Will face No. 7 West Clermont (12-7) or No. 26 Colerain (5-14) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 6 p.m.
Hamilton (9-10) — Seeded 19th in the Cincinnati 4 sectional at Sycamore. Will face No. 6 Mercy McAuley (14-3) on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 1 p.m.
Lakota East (8-12) — Seeded 18th in the Cincinnati 4 sectional at Sycamore. Will face No. 6 Mercy McAuley (14-3) or No. 19 Hamilton (9-10) on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m.
Lakota West (18-2) — Seeded second in the Cincinnati 1 sectional at Lakota East. Will face No. 31 Talawanda (1-18) on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Lebanon (7-12) — Seeded eighth in the Dayton 3 sectional at Vandalia Butler. Will face No. 13 Miamisburg (6-13) or No. 6 Tecumseh (11-6) on Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Middletown (3-14) — Seeded 27th in the Cincinnati 5 sectional at Sycamore. Will face No. 3 Walnut Hills (19-1) or No. 28 Seton (4-16) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Talawanda (1-18) — Seeded 31st in the Cincinnati 1 sectional at Lakota East. Will face No. 2 Lakota West (18-2) on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7:30 p.m.
Carlisle (8-12) — Seeded 15th in the Covington 1 sectional at Covington. Will face No. 5 Miami East (14-6) on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 3:30 p.m.
Cincinnati Christian (5-15) — Seeded seventh in the Monroe 1 sectional at Monroe. Will face No. 6 South Charleston Southeastern (7-12) on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 8:30 p.m.
Middletown Christian (7-11) — Seeded eighth in the Monroe 1 sectional at Monroe. Will face No. 4 Fayetteville-Perry (8-9) on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m.
New Miami (0-16) — Seeded 12th in the Monroe 2 sectional at Monroe. Will face No. 3 Georgetown (14-5) or No. 5 Cincinnati College Prep Academy (10-4) on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 7:30 p.m.