ARCANUM – After an emotion senior night ceremony, Arcanum girls basketball coach Matt Grote didn’t know if his team would be ready to take on a strong Ansonia squad.
But from the opening tip to the final whistle the Lady Trojans had no problems handling the emotions of the night as they dominated Ansonia 55-27 in a Cross County Conference game.
“For senior night, coming out with a lot of emotions going on, you’re never really sure what kind of team is going to show up, and they brought it,” Grote said. “You know what, they brought it. They came out from the start played hard the whole time, and it was a tremendous effort from all our kids, especially our seniors.”
Arcanum recognized its three seniors – Alexis Abner, Rebecca Deao and Abby Ross – prior to the start of the game, and those three were a driving force for the Trojans on Thursday.
After Stevie Johnting began the game with a 3-pointer, Ross and Deao combined to score Arcanum’s next 10 points to help the Trojans build a 13-2 first quarter lead.
Ansonia’s first points of the night didn’t come until Bailey Stammen made a layup with 17 seconds remaining in the opening period by which time the Tigers found themselves trailing 11-0.
“It’s a team effort, and we do it together,” Grote said of Arcanum’s defense. “That’s something we’ve been talking about all year. It’s not I have to stop my man. It’s we have to stop them from scoring.”
Arcanum continued to pull away in the second quarter with Johnting, McKenzie Sharritts, Ross, Brittany Kinney and Abner all scoring as the Trojans outscored the Tigers 19-11 to extend their lead to 32-13 at halftime. Jailyn Thwaits, Stefani Garrett, Brooke Neal and Stammen scored for Ansonia in the quarter.
Ansonia and Arcanum played evenly early in the third quarter with Arcanum holding a 38-18 advantage. But the Trojans then finished the period strong, outscoring the Tigers 9-3, to lead 47-21 through three quarters.
Arcanum’s run continued into the fourth quarter with Johnting, Abner and Deao scoring the first six points of the period to push the lead to 32 points, 53-21.
With the backups taking over, Ansonia finished strong and scored six of the last eight points for the 55-27 final score.
With the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament quickly approaching, Arcanum seems to be clicking at the right time, Grote said.
“Our offense is just starting to click, and it’s starting to pick it up with our defense,” he said. “Our defense has been a staple from day one. We’ve been working on. We knew we wanted to improve. We get after it hard. That is a real good Ansonia team. I think they’ve won probably four out of the last five, getting rolling a little bit. We just played hard, got after it and took care of business.”
Johnting led Arcanum with a game-high 16 points on Thursday. Also for the Trojans, Abner scored 15 points, Deao scored eight, Kinney scored seven, Ross scored five, Madison O’Daniel scored two, and Sharritts scored two.
Neal led Ansonia with eight points in the game. Also for the Tigers, Stammen scored seven points, Trinity Henderson scored five, Garrett scored two, Abby Helmke scored two, Thwaits scored two, and Kassy Wentworth scored one.
Arcanum proved to 12-8 overall and 8-3 in the CCC with the win while Ansonia fell to 11-8 overall and 6-5 in the CCC.
Arcanum while travel to Sidney Saturday afternoon to face Lehman Catholic while Ansonia will have its senior day on Saturday when it plays host to Parkway.
Arcanum’s three seniors – Abner, Deao and Ross – have been great leaders this season, Grote said.
“You’re never sure coming in first year exactly what you’re going to get,” Arcanum’s first-year head coach said. “But they stepped up from day one, they bought in to the system, they bought in to what we were selling here, and it really shows. They’re really good leaders, especially how they act on and off the court. They do things really well, and I think the girls respect them.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.