CLAYTON — Anna’s got its eyes set on a return trip to UD Arena, and its potential opponents are already eying the squad.
Coaches from Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and Clark Montessori were on hand on Thursday at Northmont’s Thunderdome to watch Anna face Springfield Northeastern in a Div. III sectional final.
Coaches from both schools likely got their eyes full of Anna’s athleticism.
The Rockets — which are the Dayton Div. III sectional’s No. 1 seed — jumped out to a 24-point lead in the first quarter and cruised to a convincing 66-25 win over the Jets.
Anna (22-2) advances to its fourth consecutive sectional final with the victory and will face Preble Shawnee (11-13) on Saturday at 3:30 at Northmont. The winner of the contest will face the either CHCA or Clark Montessori in a district final on March 10 at UD Arena. The two Cincinnati-area schools will also face off in a sectional final on Saturday.
Northeastern had problems finding shots and only made five in the first half. The Jets didn’t score until the 3:00 mark in the first quarter, at which point Anna had already scored 12 points. The Rockets finished the rest of the quarter on a 14-0 run to take a 26-2 lead heading into the second.
Anna senior forward Griffin Doseck, who was named first team all-Southwest district in D-III on Friday, was a one-man wrecking crew. He dominated the post and had 12 first-quarter points.
Anna continued its domination in the second quarter as Kamren Steward drilled a 3-pointer to open the quarter, and it only got worse for Northeastern, which made numerous turnovers against Anna’s pressure. Coach Lloyd Alexander tried various lineup changes, but nothing got the Jets airborne.
Carter Elliott and Doseck shared open shots to give Anna a whopping lead of 39-6. The Rockets led 46-12 at halftime.
“We wanted to establish tempo,” Anna coach Nate Barhorst said. “It was nice to get ahead early. Yes, it got sort of sloppy at times, but you can expect that in this type of tempo.”
Bart Bixler started the third quarter with a layup and Carter Elliott then woke up the crowd with a dunk on a fast break. The points helped push the scoring differential over 35, which caused the rest of the game to be played with a running clock.
“We did get a lot of kids playing time, but the running clock hampered that,” Barhorst said. “The second half went too fast.”
Bixler was a perfect 8 for 8 from two-point range and 4 for 4 from foul line. His only miss was a 3-pointer. He ended with 20 points.
Doseck was also a perfect 6 of 6 from two-point range and 7 for 7 from the free-throw line for 19 points. He also had seven rebounds. Elliott was also in double figures with 10 points. Steward stepped up his game by scoring seven points and had five rebounds.
Anna will make the quick turnaround to play No. 13 seed Shawnee on Saturday. The Arrows held on to beat No. 11 Bethel 48-46 in Thursday’s first semifinal at Northmont.
One positive thing for Anna heading into Saturday’s game and a potential district final later this month: scouts from Shawnee nor either potential Cincinnati district opponent will have much to go on in terms of Anna’s sets. The Rockets didn’t need to run any on Thursday — or in their 82-54 sectional opening victory over Carlisle last Saturday.
Northeastern, which was the No. 22 seed, finishes 4-18 overall. One bright spot for the Jets was the play of sophomore guard Adam Webb, who was 2 for 4 from two-point range and made three 3s and 4 of 5 foul shots for a total of 17 points. No one else was close to double figures for Northeastern.