CENTERVILLE — It was a defeat that failed to deflate Middletown Christian School’s girls basketball team.
Visiting MCS was on the losing side of a 48-35 decision against Dayton Christian on Thursday night at Watts Middle School, but the Eagles remained upbeat as their three-game winning streak came to an end.
“I still think we’re on our way,” Middletown Christian coach Ken Yablonsky said after his squad dropped to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the Metro Buckeye Conference. “If you had told me we’d be 4-4 right now, I would’ve been really happy with that.
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“I love this team. It’s such a fun team to be around. We graduated two and added six girls this year. We can do so much more at practice now. We can compete with each other in practice, which last year we couldn’t necessarily do. We can make ourselves better each and every day.”
The Eagles were just 4-19 last season, so they’ve already equaled last year’s win total with a team that has just two seniors — Anna Crawford and Skyler Harmeyer.
And there’s been more adversity than just trying to mold a group of players into a cohesive unit. Yablonsky had a medical emergency and missed the first three games of the season, with assistant coach Jason Crawford leading MCS to a win over Stivers and losses to Troy Christian and Legacy Christian.
“These guys FaceTimed me pregame and postgame from every game when I was sitting there in the hospital,” Yablonsky said. “They made me a poster and put it on the wall, and all the doctors and nurses kept asking me about my team. They lifted my spirits. They helped me get through a tough time, and I love being around them. They’re awesome kids.”
Anna Crawford doesn’t mind playing with a bunch of girls who are younger than her. She said the group has an infectious spirit.
“I love everybody on my team,” said Crawford, a standout soccer player who also finished 11th in the 800 meters at last year’s Division III state track meet. “I like playing with all the girls and getting to know them. They’re always encouraging. Everybody’s just loving on each other, and we all help each other get better.
“I think we can win some more games. I think we’re going to be very competitive the rest of the season. We’re not going to give up, even if we lose some. We’re going to play our hardest and give all our glory to God.”
The Eagles only led twice (6-5 and 14-13) against Dayton Christian. It was a 34-28 affair early in the fourth period when the Warriors took off on a victory-clinching 12-1 run.
Junior forward Camryn Collinsworth had been out for about two weeks because of a knee injury, but she returned with authority Thursday, totaling 19 points and 15 rebounds for the winners.
“We didn’t know if Collinsworth was going to play … and she just ate us alive inside,” Yablonsky said. “We had to change our game plan a little bit and didn’t get the steals that we wanted to have against them. We missed our share of free throws, which is normal for us, and I think we panicked a little too much. We threw the ball away and gave them some easy buckets. You could tell we got tired.”
Freshman guard Trinity Bellard paced MCS with 18 points, seven rebounds and five steals. Lauren Piatt added six points and seven boards, Crawford had three points, five rebounds, three steals and three assists, and Ellie Veal chipped in four points and seven boards.
Collinsworth, Kayla Ogburn (13 points, eight rebounds) and Bailey Peterson (seven points, 14 boards) led the way for the Warriors (4-7, 2-4).
“It seemed like Kayla and Camryn and Bailey were all working off each other, and we got some great minutes off the bench,” said DCS coach Kathy Hill, noting the quality play provided by freshmen Shaina Caddy and Kiara Sanders. “We came together today. Our effort and our energy and our attitude all night long was something we’ve been looking for since the beginning of the season. I think they all stepped up. I can’t be more proud of our entire team. We’ve got a long way to go to get where we want to be, but this is a good start for the new year.”
The Eagles will travel to Northridge on Saturday afternoon, while the Warriors host East Dayton Christian next Thursday at Miamisburg.
Middletown Christian 8-7-11-9—35
Dayton Christian 9-12-13-14—48
MIDDLETOWN CHRISTIAN (4-4, 1-4 MBC): Anna Crawford 1 1 3; Marissa Lykins 1 0 2; Ellie Veal 1 2 4; Hannah Pohl 1 0 2; Trinity Bellard 7 4 18; Lauren Piatt 3 0 6. Totals: 14-7-35
DAYTON CHRISTIAN (4-7, 2-4 MBC): Camryn Collinsworth 8 2 19; Kayla Ogburn 6 1 13; Bailey Peterson 3 1 7; Hannah Kitchens 2 0 4; Kiara Sanders 1 0 3; Shaina Caddy 1 0 2. Totals: 21-4-48
3-pointers: DC 2 (Collinsworth, Sanders)