Beavercreek was looking to maintain its No. 5 state ranking in addition to locking up the GWOC Central division title Wednesday night against No. 6 Springboro. Behind 16 points and nine rebounds from junior center Mikaela Ruef, Beavercreek accomplished both goals edging Springboro 44-43 in front of a modest-sized crowd at Ed Zink Fieldhouse.
BEAVERCREEK – Ranked No. 5 in the Division I state poll, the Beavercreek girls basketball team had a lot riding on the line Wednesday night against visiting Greater Western Ohio Conference foe and No. 6 ranked Springboro.
The Fighting Beavers were looking to maintain its state ranking in addition to locking up the GWOC Central division title. Behind 16 points and nine rebounds from junior center Mikaela Ruef, Beavercreek accomplished both goals edging Springboro 44-43 in front of a modest-sized crowd at Ed Zink Fieldhouse.
“(Ruef) just does so much for us,” Zink said. “Mikaela has great upside and I like the way she is playing with more intensity. That was my knock on her early on – that she didn’t play hard all the time. But she is playing very well and you can’t ask anymore from her.”
Beavercreek (18-1, 9-0 GWOC Central) led by ten going into the final frame but the Springboro defense clamped down and the offense hit some key shots down the stretch to get back in the game. Trailing 42-41 with just over a minute left, Springboro senior guard Heather Schultz stepped to the foul line and drained two free throws to give the Panthers a 1-point advantage.
But Beavercreek looked to its junior center on the ensuing possesion and Ruef kissed a shot off the glass with 34 seconds remaining to give Beavercreek the lead for good.
Springboro (17-2, 7-0 GWOC South) had an opportunity to try and pull off the win trailing by one, though. Ruef was fouled late and missed the first foul shot of a one-and-one bonus. Springboro’s Meredith Fox pulled down the rebound with four ticks left on the clock and the Panthers called a timeout with nine-tenths of a second remaining.
Coming out of timeout, Schultz couldn’t find an open teammate to inbound the ball to and called another timeout. Fox got the call coming out of the next timeout but her inbounds pass from the sideline to senior center Shannon Thomas under the basket sailed out-of-bounds sealing the win for Beavercreek.
“They’re good and we’re good so we knew it was going to be a tough game but we played hard,” Ruef said.
Beavercreek led Springboro 24-19 at halftime but the Panthers netted 17 points to Beavercreek’s eight in the fourth quarter. The Beavers had two scoring droughts in the final frame of over two minutes.
“I think we might have gotten a little bit tentative there towards the end,” Zink said. “We almost gave it away but (Springboro) earned it. They came down and hit some shots and got some turnovers. We missed some shots but you have to give our kids credit. We fell behind but we came down and worked the ball, Mikaela hit a big shot to put us back up and I thought we did a nice job defensively there at the end.”
Thomas, an Indiana State recruit, led all stat-getters with 13 points and 12 rebounds and sunk three free throws late in the game to keep Springboro close.
Entering the game, the match up between Reuf and Thomas – AAU teammates – was a main focus during Beavercreek's preparations.
“I think that was obviously the big match up,” Zink said. “Both are two big kids and they know each other very well so that was a match up within the game itself. But it is two teams playing against each other and not one kid against another. I thought they both did a nice job.”
Said Ruef: “I wanted to beat her because they beat us last year. But more than anything I wanted to block her and I did twice, so that was exciting. She’s good but I just wanted to beat her and I think I sort of did.”
Fox had 11 points in the game for the Panthers, including the go-ahead free throws in the fourth quarter and pulled down six rebounds. Freshman Olivia Schretzman netted 10 points and had four rebounds.
“I just wanted to get (the game) over with so I was happy when it was finally over and we won,” Ruef said.
Said Zink: “It was a fun game to watch, a fun game to coach and we won. I thought both teams played extremely hard and that is all you can ask out of your kids.”