Kevin Goheen reports:
Mason, Talawanda, Middletown Madison, Summit Country Day and Cincinnati Country Day all earned No. 1 seeds at Sunday’s girls’ basketball sectional draw meeting at Wyoming.
The sectional tournament begins for area teams with games in Division II, III and IV on Feb. 13 while the Division I tournament starts up on Feb. 14.
The Division I sectional is a 32-team “super” draw field in which all teams are seeded and they get to choose one of five brackets that lead to the district tournament.
Mason, coming off its first loss of the season Saturday afternoon against Princeton, 64-55, will open on Feb. 20 against the winner of the game between Oak Hills and Woodward in the Cincinnati 1 bracket at Kings.
The Comets (18-1) are ranked No. 1 in the Enquirer coaches’ poll and No. 2 in the Associated Press state poll. They have one game left in the regular season against Colerain this Saturday. A win would clinch their first Greater Miami Conference title.
Princeton (13-7) is the second seed and will open against Northwest on Feb. 16 in the Cincinnati 3 bracket at Lakota East. The Vikings have been bolstered by junior guard Kelsey Mitchell’s return from a broken left foot that forced her to miss 15 games. Mitchell, regarded as the top-ranked player nationally in her class by multiple recruiting services, scored 30 points in the win against Mason.
Princeton has won three consecutive district titles, while Mason has been to the regional tournament three of the last four seasons. Mason lost to three-time reigning regional champ Kettering Fairmont last season.
Lakota West (16-3), Ursuline (15-4), Mercy (16-4) and Winton Woods (13-4) round out the top six seeds. No teams seeded higher than No. 14 are in Mason or Princeton’s brackets.
Teams in the Division II bracket at Withrow were even more determined to stay out of Talawanda’s path. The Braves are 19-0 and ranked No. 1 in the Enquirer’s Division II-IV coaches’ poll and No. 3 in the state. They begin play against Batavia on Feb. 14.
Of the 13 teams in the sectional, seed Nos. 2-5 all went to the opposite bracket. Second-seeded Western Brown (16-3) will open against No. 5 Mount Healthy (12-7), while No. 4 McNicholas (13-6) will face No. 3 Norwood (16-2) if the Rockets can first get past Ross.
Talawanda reached the district finals last season against Dayton Chaminade-Julienne before losing. It was the first time since the 1980’s, according to second-year coach Kim Richter, the Braves had made it that far.
“That was a big deal,” said Richter. “Getting there was awesome but it gave them a hunger because they want to come back and go farther this year.”
Talawanda is led by junior forward Ana Richter, one of two daughters the coach has playing for her. Ana Richter is averaging 17.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.
Madison, Cincinnati Christian and Badin head a crowded Division III sectional field to be played at Edgewood. Madison (17-2) is ranked No. 2 in the Enquirer poll, No. 13 in the state Division III poll and has been to four straight district finals and three of the last four regional tournaments.
Cincinnati Christian (17-2) is ranked No. 10 in the Enquirer poll but is coming off a 43-36 win at No. 7 Summit on Saturday. Badin (8-10) has played in the district tournament four of the last five years, including three trips to the regional tournament.
Madeira (15-3) is seeded No. 2 behind Summit (16-2) in the Fairfield Division III bracket with Mariemont (14-5) third.
Cincinnati Country Day (14-5) earned the top seed at the Division IV sectional to be played at Monroe. Cincinnati College Prep, in its first year as a member of the Ohio High School Athletic Association, is the No. 4 seed.