Little Miami High School’s girls basketball team scored more points against Lakota West on Monday than either of the Firebirds’ first two Division I sectional opponents.
The Panthers also limited West to a tournament low in scoring. Unfortunately for the Panthers, the standards going into the sectional final at Lakota East were 65 and 13, so the gritty job they turned in did nothing to slow the roll West is enjoying.
Senior Abby Prohaska scored 19 points, including the 1,000th of her career, and sophomore Nevaeh Dean added 11 as the top-seeded Firebirds advanced to Saturday’s district championship round with a 60-21 win.
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Since losing the regular-season finale at Mason to finish tied with the Comets for the Greater Miami Conference championship, West (23-2) has won its three tournament games by a combined 191-43.
“I think the loss to Mason really helped us,” said Prohaska, who reached 1,000 points with her second field goal, a 10-foot jumper from the lane with 2:24 left in the first quarter. “I think it helped us focus. It was a positive.”
Prohaska was surprised that she reached her career milestone.
“In my sophomore year, I struggled and was out a lot,” she said. “We had a meeting before the season and (coach Andy Fishman) went over the numbers. I didn’t think I had a chance, so I wasn’t focused on it. I put it in the back of my mind. I was focused on other things. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates getting me the ball and setting screens.”
Fishman was happy to see his team playing with its normal defensive intensity. The Firebirds forced 25 turnovers and outrebounded the Panthers 40-22.
“Our intensity and effort were strong,” Fishman said. “Sometimes we were a little too unselfish. Little Miami came out ready to play. If you let them get comfortable, they can knock down shots, so the key was to make them uncomfortable.”
He was disturbed by West’s shooting, especially 35.9 percent (14 of 39) in the first half.
“We’ve still got to get better,” he said. ‘We’ve got to make more shots. We definitely want to shoot better from the field. Sometimes you get good shots and they don’t go down. That’s when you’ve got to hang your hat on defense, rebounding and free-throw shooting.”
Jaydis Gales, Dean and Prohaska each scored 8 points while West was opening up a 35-4 first-half lead before Little Miami, a Southwest Ohio Conference tri-champion, was able to end a scoreless drought that lasted 11 minutes and 16 seconds before Sydney Kuritar scored on a layup with 39 seconds left in the half.
The Firebirds forced the Panthers into 18 first-half turnovers and converted them into a 24-0 advantage in points off turnovers. West also grabbed 28 rebounds, seven by Dean and 15 of them on offense, leading to a 13-0 advantage in second-chance points.
The game went to a running clock early in the third quarter after Prohaska’s layup gave the Firebirds a 44-9 lead.
West will face Fairmont, the No. 6 seed in the Troy sectional, in a district-championship game Saturday at Princeton. Tipoff time has yet to be determined.
Fairmont (17-8) extended its winning streak to six games with a 50-35 win over seventh-seeded Tecumseh on Monday at Troy.
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