COVINGTON – As Arcanum girls basketball coach Michael Dean put it, there is a reason Waynesville is undefeated and ranked third in the state.
The Spartans entered the Covington gymnasium on Monday night with a 22-0 record and left with a 23-0 mark and a Division III sectional championship after knocking off the young, upstart Lady Trojans 59-39.
“Waynesville is a strong ball club,” Dean said. “There is a reason why they are ranked No. 3 in the state and undefeated. They are quick and athletic and deep. We knew coming in it was going to be a challenge for us. We threw everything we could at them, but they were very physical. And No. 4? Wow! What a good ball player.”
No. 4 for Waynesville is Marcella Sizer, a 6-foot senior post player who was unstoppable when she touched the ball. Sizer led all players with 15 points. She scored 7 of those in the second quartet to help the Spartans begin to pull away from Arcanum.
“It’s tough to match up three freshmen basically and get physical with a player like that underneath the boards,” Dean said. “We were flat to start and Eva (Siculan) and Elliana (Sloan) both came in and gave us some good minutes and helped us gather ourselves.
“We put a pressure defense on teams that they are not used to getting and a lot of teams don’t respond to that so give kudos to their coach and their players. They were prepared and strong,” he continued. “We haven’t had a team face our defense like that this year other than Versailles so it just shows you how talented a team they are.”
Arcanum (16-9) remained close at 11-8 at the end of the first quarter. Junior Kayla O’Daniel accounted for 7 of those 8 first-quarter points with her effort and determination. Freshman Taylor had the other point.
“Kayla left it all on the floor tonight,” Dean said. “I’ve probably beat it to a dead horse with her and Gracie Garno and Camille Pohl on how hard they work. They are unselfish with their play and they do leave it all out there especially Kayla tonight. She really wanted to go another round.”
O’Daniel led the Trojans in scoring with 13 points. Gray was next with 9 points as 6 of those came in the second half. Waynesville had three players reach double figures led by Sizer with 15 and followed by Rachel Murray with 14 and Lynzie Hartshorn with 13.
“I think we did some progressing tonight,” Dean said. “We got a little bit better, but they just broke away.”
Dean said Waynesville coach Tim Gabbard came up to him after the game and offered some encouraging words.
“He came up and congratulated me and I congratulated him of course and then the first thing out of his mouth was you have some kids coming up and your turn will be here soon,” Dean said. “That made me feel good as a coach and for our kids too. We are young but we have a good group of juniors who will be coming back for next year and hopefully we can make a run then and for the few years.”
Dean also praised his three seniors – Macey Hartman, Sasha Derringer and Mady Richards.
“They came in and worked the girls hard and they did it every day with no complaints,” Dean said. “It is tough at times when you are that deep and very young to give them the minutes they deserve, but they worked every single day and provided to this team.”
Arcanum ends its season with a 16-9 record overall and 8-4 in the Cross County Conference.
Score by quarters
Waynesville – Marcella Sizer 5 5 15, Leah Butterbaugh 0 3 3, Kenzie Purkey 0 1 1, Carli Brown 4 0 9, Rachel Murray 3 6 14, Lynzie Hartshorn 4 2 13, Lydia Anderson 2 0 4. Totals: 18 17 59.
Arcanum – Hailey Unger 2 0 5, Eva Siculan 1 0 2, Kayla O’Daniel 4 5 13, Camille Pohl 1 2 4, Gracie Garno 0 2 2, Madelyn Fearon 2 0 4, Taylor Gray 4 1 9. Totals: 14 10 39.
3-pointers – Waynesville 6 (Hartshorn 3, Murray 2, Brown 1), Arcanum 1 (Unger 1).
Records: Waynesville (23-0), Arcanum (16-9).
The Daily Advocate sports editor Skip Weaver can be reached at (937) 569-4316 or by email at email@example.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @skipweaver65.