By Chris Schmidbauer, Sports Information Director
Circleville, OH -- After last season's heartbreaking loss to Cincinnati State in the District Final, the Owens Women's Basketball program vowed this season would be different. Well, Mission Accomplished.
In a tight battle throughout, Owens was able to outlast a late game rally from Sinclair to claim the District I title on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Christian's Maxwell Center.
The Express led by just four points after the first period at 17-13. In the second period, freshman Da'Vina Shelton would go off from three. She would hit four in the ten minute period and score 12 of the 20 points the Express scored in the quarter. Owens and Sinclair would head to the locker room up just six at 39-33.
Out of the half, Sinclair would cut the Owens lead to just a basket at the 7:34 mark on a three pointer by OCCAC Player of the Year, Amanda Schroeder. Essence Cowan would answer back with a triple of her own to put the Express back up by five just 20 seconds later. Cowan would account for 11 points in the quarter for the Express, hitting two more threes and making a pair of free throws. Owens would close the quarter on a 15-6 run to a take a 57-46 lead heading into the final quarter of play.
In the fourth, Sinclair would score the first seven points of the quarter to get back within just four points of Owens. But that is the closest the Tartan Pride would come. Owens would strengthen their lead back to eight on a Da'Vina Shelton three with 5:04 to play in the game. Kaylah Ivey's offensive put back at 1:48 mark would give Owens a double digit lead, and the Express would salt the game away for their seventh Region XII District Championship.
Freshman Da'Vina Shelton was the offensive spark plug for Owens. She scored 21 points on 7-12 shooting and a tremendous 6-11 from three. She also finished with four assists and two steals on the afternoon. When Shelton wasn't driving the Express offense, sophomore Essence Cowan was. She scored 17 points on 5-11 shooting and hit four three pointer on nine attempts.
Brenda Pennington, who was named the tournament's MVP, scored 12 points on the afternoon on 5-13 shooting. She finished with a game high eight assists and five rebounds on the day. For the tournament, she averaged 19.5 ppg, 7.5 assists and 6 rebounds on the weekend.
Dai'Shona Polk was in double figures scoring again as well with 11 points, shooting 50% from the floor in 36 minutes of play. Kaylah Ivey scored eight points and was a force on the glass. She grabbed a team high eleven boards for the game.
In total, the Express shot 49.1% (26-53) from the floor for the game and were 40% (10-25) from three. Sinclair shot 42.3% (22-52) from the field and 53.8% (7-13) from beyond the arc. The Tartan Pride were led in scoring by the aforementioned Amanda Schroeder, who finished with 13 points on 4-10 shooting.
Owens moves to 25-4 and have now won twelve games in a row, which represents their longest winning streak of the season. They will advance to the NJCAA Division II National Tournament, which will be played at North Arkansas University in Harrison, Arkansas from March 20-24.