PITSBURG – The Arcanum Lady Trojans were not only facing the Preble Shawnee Lady Arrows for a sectional championship Saturday but also were trying to defeat ghosts of past tournament experiences.
In a game which everyone contributed, Matt Grote’s Lady Trojans basketball team not only defeated Preble Shawnee 53-42 but won an Ohio High School Athletic Association Division III sectional for the first time in many seasons.
“This was a huge program game today,” Coach Grote said. “When you work hard and do what you are supposed to do, good things are going to happen.”
Concerning the outlook of his team coming into the game Grote said, “Thursday, we had a rough day offensively. Had a great practice yesterday and a great shoot around this morning. Defensive effort today was awesome, and we knocked down some shots.”
The first quarter was played up and down the floor without many points being registered on the scoreboard. With two Stevie Johnting free throws Arcanum took the lead with 1:34 left in the period, 6-5. Madi O’Daniel hit a basket and Kayla O’Daniel netted a 3-point play before time expired to give the Lady Trojans an 11-5 lead after eight minutes.
Preble Shawnee, however, was not ready to give up the fight. The Lady Arrows countered with three triples in period two, among their 14 points, to keep them in the game.
Arcanum put in two from behind the arc by Brittany Kinney and Kayla O’Daniel, but it took a driving lay-in by Gracie Garno just before the buzzer to give the Lady Trojans a 21-19 lead at the half.
Arcanum came out very aggressive in the second half. Their defense, which had been doing a good job, suddenly was extremely active on the ball and in the passing lanes. Shots from behind the arc continued to fall for the Lady Trojans as they struck with three more in the quarter, two by Johnting and the other by Kaitlyn Zell. The net result was a 15-7 advantage for the quarter, giving Arcanum a 36-26 lead going into the fourth period.
Preble Shawnee began the final stanza on a 6-0 run, causing an Arcanum timeout with 6:34 remaining. The Lady Trojans had been sloppy and making turnovers against the Lady Arrows’ press.
“Early in the year we had let downs,” Grote said. “But now have for a possession or two then we bounce back.”
While the defense shut down the Shawnee attack and forced turnovers, the Arcanum offense generated three baskets from Kinney, Johnting and Kayla O’Daniel. This upped the margin to 11, and the Lady Trojans had the game in hand.
“Total effort by the team,” Coach Grote said. “Really knew the scouting report. We played well tonight.
“The girls are ecstatic, happy in the locker room … screaming the fight song … It’s a great environment for basketball. Glad we were able to step up and get the job done and be able to move on.”
Johnting led the Lady Trojans with 18 points. Kayla O’Daniel had 15 and Kinney had 9.
Arcanum will face No.1 ranked Summit Country Day at 1 p.m. Saturday at Springfield High School.