Ansonia girls basketball falls short in playoff game to Botkins


By Drew Terhall

VERSAILLES — The Lady Tigers couldn’t get over the late game hump to avenge their regular season loss to Botkins. The 14th seed Ansonia has their season ended by 10th seed Botkins in the OHSAA Division IV Girls Basketball Southwest Sectional on Feb. 21. They lost 52-35 at Versailles High School

After being down big early, Ansonia stormed back to make it a two-point game. Head coach Connor Custenborder said the team wasn’t ready to quit when things didn’t go their way early. Like they did in their last tournament game, they fought back.

“We didn’t want to be done. They kept fighting, they wanted to keep playing. We wanted to keep playing as a coaching staff. We kept telling them we’re not out of it. It helps the game before we were down eight at one point,” Custenborder said. “Thirteen points is not too far off that. We just kept saying we’ve been in this spot before.”

Ansonia was down 19-7 after the first quarter. Botkins got down the court fast and scored quickly before Ansonia could set up their defense.

Custenborder said while they had success with the press, they couldn’t transition fast enough to their man to man defense. Botkins took advantage of that transition window to score quickly.

Once the press was called off, the defense settled in. After Botkins made five threes in the first quarter, they only made one more the rest of the game.

Ansonia was able to take away the perimeter. Custenborder said it was a point of emphasis that they had to close out on the shooters. Then, the turnovers started to come and give the offense some life.

The Lady Tigers started to move the ball more and get better looks. They went on a 7-1 run in the first three minutes of the second quarter.

By the time halftime came around, Ansonia was only down 25-23. The offense got into a groove and were closing in on Botkins.

The Lady Trojans extended their lead just a bit in the third quarter. Ansonia didn’t play as well offensively as they did in the second quarter.

But the Lady Tigers hung in. The defense and their rebounding helped keep them in the game. Custenborder said they have improved rebounding the ball throughout the season, but still have room for improvement.

Turnovers by Ansonia hurt them from time to time in the first three quarters. In the fourth quarter, it buried them. The turnovers started to add up and Botkins scored easy transition buckets one after another.

“We got to take care of the ball. It’s been our problem all year. We lead our conference in steals, but we also lead in turnovers, I think. It’s been a big issue for us all year. Something to work on in the offseason,” Custenborder said.

Sophomore Olivia Creager scored the first points of the fourth quarter for Ansonia at the 3:10 mark. By then, Botkins built up a big enough lead to sit on.

It was the last game for two seniors on Ansonia, Brenna and Bailey Schmit. Custenborder said they will miss both players as they have been a big part of the program the last four years. But, he is excited to bring the rest of the roster back along with some talented junior high kids.

Custenborder learned a lot about the team in his first year at the helm of Ansonia and at the helm of a varsity program. He said this group is a resilient group as they have gone through five coaches in four years.

He wasn’t ready to end the season after one playoff win. Custenborder believed his team could have made a run.

“Even this year, I felt like we could have made a run. Don’t get me wrong, Botkins is a great team. Southeastern is a great team. But I have full confidence in our team that if we played them again, we would win. That’s just my mindset,” Custenborder said.

Bailey Schmit and junior Gabby Leeper both had seven points to lead the team. Creager and sophomore Rose Barga both had six points.

Ansonia ends their season with an 11-13 record and a 5-6 WOAC record.

Contact Daily Advocate sports editor Drew Terhall at [email protected]

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