Bulldogs finish off Middletown Christian with 18-0 run in third quarter.
DAYTON — After advancing to the district finals with a one-point win, Yellow Springs wanted to make a statement against Middletown Christian. It didn’t take long to do so.
The Bulldogs jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead and then ran away in the second half to a 66-24 win on Thursday at U.D. Arena. Yellow Springs earns a district title with the win and advances to the regional semifinals on Tuesday at Trent Arena.
Yellow Springs beat defending Div. IV state champion Tri-Village 51-50 in a sectional final last Friday. Unlike Friday’s back-and-forth game, the Bulldogs controlled the game from the opening tip and pulled away by ending the third quarter on an 18-0 run.
“It’s definitely a statement,” Yellow Springs senior Isaiah Taylor said. “The win over Tri-Village, we still can’t get past that. That’s just something that I’ll hold dear in my heart forever. But we wanted to come out and prove that isn’t a fluke, that we didn’t get lucky or something.”
Yellow Springs pulled out to a 15-3 lead by the end of the first. Taylor scored 10 points in the first on a couple of three’s and inside shots. He scored four more points in the second to help Yellow Springs take a 23-12 halftime lead.
The game got out of hand in the third quarter. Kaner Butler and Ethan Dewine added baskets early in the quarter. Tony Marinelli hit a three from five feet behind the left wing at the buzzer to cap off an 18-0 run and give the Bulldogs a 46-16 lead. Yellow Springs extended the lead further with a 20-8 scoring advantage in the fourth.
Taylor finished with a game-high 19 points and 15 rebounds, 10 of which came in the first half. Butler added 12 and Dewine scored 10. Six other players scored for Yellow Springs.
“We have a team that plays together,” Yellow Springs head coach Steve Grasso said. “The ball moves, we play defense together, and we play hard. We knew it would be a really tough one for us to get out of our sectional, but we thought if we had a chance to do that, it would be something really special. We showed on a big stage tonight what we’re all about.”
Both teams are members of the Metro Buckeye Conference and played each other twice in regular season. Yellow Springs won the first game 69-34 on Jan. 15, but the Eagles won the rematch on their home court a month later by 10 points in triple overtime.
In the second game on Feb. 15, Yellow Springs jumped out to a 21-9 lead by the end of the first quarter, but the Eagles fought back and tied the game with an 18-7 advantage in the fourth before winning in overtime. It was Yellow Springs’ last game before the tournament, and Taylor said it was a good wake-up call for the team.
“Our whole demeanor of basketball changed from that last game,” Taylor said. “We started to take no teams lightly. We had the mindset that everybody was just as good or better than us. So we just wanted to show that we are the better team and just out-work everybody.”
Middletown Christian shot 10-of-41 (24.4 percent) from the field on Thursday, including 3-of-18 from three-point range. The Eagles made 9-of-20 three-point attempts against Yellow Springs on Feb. 15.
“We just really stuck to our game plan this evening which we didn’t do last time,” Grasso said. “They’re a really excellent three-point shooting team and we really guarded the perimeter unbelievably.”
Yellow Springs shot 26-of-51 (51 percent) from the field and outrebounded Middletown Christian 38-19. Dre Shores led the Eagles with 10 points.
The Bulldogs will play the winner of Lima Perry vs. St. Henry at Trent next week. Perry and the Redskins play on Friday night in a district final.
“We’ve got three good days of practice coming up (before Tuesday), and hopefully we have a nice shot,” Grasso said.