SHARONVILLE, Ohio — Lakota East girls basketball coach Dan Wallace jubilantly pumped his arms just moments after the Thunderhawks defeated Kettering Fairmont in a double overtime district final Saturday afternoon.
Lakota East captured a Division I district title with perseverance throughout the game in its 73-68 win over Kettering Fairmont in the first of three district finals at Princeton.
It is the first district title for Lakota East (22-3) since 2011 after the Thunderhawks were runners-up the past two seasons.
"Especially for our senior class I really wanted them an opportunity to do this right here — climb the ladder and cut the nets down," Wallace said. "We've been here twice. To get here to win that game, it's so important for the program. For the kids who work so hard all these years — I'm really proud of them for getting it done."
Senior Madison French scored a career-high 29 points including four 3-pointers to lift the Thunderhawks, who will play Kings or Centerville in a Division I regional semifinal at 7 p.m. March 1 at a location to be determined.
Lakota East trailed 15-11 after the first quarter but outscored Fairmont 20-10 to close out the first half. That included four 3-pointers in the second quarter including one from French as time expired.
French, a Miami University signee, smiled at describing how close this Lakota East team has been all season.
"We're a family," French said. "We love each other. These girls — they're my best friends. We're so close."
Sophomore Brooke Asher added 11 points including two 3-pointers for the Thunderhawks. Junior Emma Fohl had 10 points.
Wallace gave a fist bump to each of the players before the medal ceremony. He said each player has put in a significant amount of effort to help the team.
"I'm proud of them for the prep work," Wallace said. "It doesn't matter how many of them get on the court. It's just that the preparation is so key."
Fairmont was led by freshman point guard Nico Cornett who had a team-high 24 points.