NEW CARLISLE — It was not an offensive masterpiece, but Bellefontaine’s girls basketball team did enough to muster a first- round tournament win here Thursday.
The Chiefs leaned on their defensive to grind out a 30-22 victory over Springfield Shawnee in a Division II sectional opener at Tecumseh High School.
It was the third time the Chiefs have defeated the Braves this season. Bellefontaine (11-12) advances to play second-seeded Trotwood- Madison at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Tecumseh.
“We told our girls coming in that it’s tough beating a team three times,” said Bellefontaine head coach Henry Stolly. “Give credit to Shawnee. They came out and were really locked in defensively. They double-team Hannah Rader in the post and we had a hard time getting into our offense. I thought our girls showed a lot of grit by finding a way to get a win tonight.”
Bellefontaine struggled mightily on the offensive end early on. The Chiefs did not score until Kailynn Kenner’s bucket with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. Bellefontaine trailed 5-2 after the opening period.
The Chiefs started to get on track in the second period, outscoring the Braves 10-4 to lead 12-9 at the break.
The lead changed hands several times in the third quarter. Kenner drove the length of the floor and hit a layup just before the buzzer to put the Chiefs ahead 18-17 going into the final period.
“Kailynn’s basket there at the end of the third quarter was big for us,” said Stolly. “That gave us a little bit of momentum going into the fourth quarter.”
Bellefontaine never trailed again. The Chiefs gradually pulled away as the minutes ticked off the clock in the fourth stanza.
The Chiefs scored 12 of their 30 points at the foul line, finishing 12-23. Shawnee was just 1-6.
“We didn’t shoot a great percentage at the free-throw line, but we made enough to put the game away in the fourth quarter,” said Stolly. “In a game like this, it can often come down to free throws, so it was good to see the girls make some clutch ones down the stretch.”
Hannah Rader led the Chiefs with eight points. Meagan Neal had seven points and Kenner added four points.
Bellefontaine will face a more difficult challenge in the next round with a matchup against a talented Rams squad.
“We have to be able to control the tempo and not allow them to play at their pace,” said Stolly. “We have to handle the ball well and get back on defense because they like to get the ball up and down the floor.” Shawnee finishes the season with a 7-16 record.