Girls Basketball – Div. II district final

DeSales tops Licking Valley, advances to regional semifinal

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Lorrie Cecil/ThisWeek
DeSales' Tyler Craig and Aubri Caslin share a hug after beating Licking Valley 44-23 in the Division II district final at Delaware High School on March 2.

Most members of the DeSales High School girls basketball team have won enough championships in other sports to realize that, sometimes, a change in routine is necessary to ensure success.

The Stallions don’t play zone defense all the time, but they do enough to be comfortable with it. On Friday, March 2, they used it to overwhelm Licking Valley while posting a 44-23 victory in a Division II district final at Delaware.

“We play really hard in our zone defense because we’re very aggressive and we don’t just stand around like a lot of teams,” Stallions guard Kelsey Albanese said. “We change defenses a lot, but we really like our zone because we’re aggressive.”

Albanese scored 19 points and Tyler Craig added 12 for DeSales, which won its fourth district championship. The others came in 2010, 2006 and 1988.

DeSales (16-7) will play Cincinnati Mount Healthy or Dayton Carroll in a regional semifinal at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, at Springfield.

After scoring 10 points in the first 3 minutes, 26 seconds, Licking Valley (18-6) was held to 13 over the next 28:34. The Panthers also committed 25 turnovers.

“We knew we had to get out on some good shooters and rebound the basketball. They bought into the plan like they have all year,” Stallions coach Brian Cromwell said. “Our defense has been what we’ve hung our hat on all year long. Our girls have worked very hard on the zone and played hard in our man. We know we have to get stops in a big game like this when it comes down to it and fortunately enough, tonight we were able to put some points on the board to go along with that.”

It was the third fewest points the Stallions have allowed this season. They gave up 17 against Columbus School for Girls on Feb. 1 and 15 in a 32-point win over Licking Heights in the first round of the tournament Feb. 16.

A 12-2 DeSales run spanning the second and third quarters effectively sealed the win.

“We just had to keep playing and stick to the game plan,” Albanese said. “We kept after it and we think we did a pretty good job.”

Leigha Moran had nine points, Meghan Fracker scored eight and Jenny Wright added six for Licking Valley.

“Nothing worked tonight,” Panthers coach Ty Crawmer said. “We knew they were a nice-sized team and they played a little more aggressive than we did.”