FRANKFORT – Memories have a long shelf life.
The Circleville Lady Tigers were determined not to relive its heartbreaking loss to Washington Court House in last year's sectional championship. Using a 24-7 run that spanned two quarters Saturday, the Lady Tigers claimed this year's sectional championship with a 50-37 win over the Miami Trace Lady Panthers at Adena High School.
“Our loss to Washington Court House last year has kind of been our rallying point all season,” Circleville senior Casse Mogan said. “We didn't want to feel like that again, and we wanted to make a statement with this game.”
Mogan had a monster afternoon for the Lady Tigers, posting a game-high 24 points to go along with her eight rebounds. Abbey Palmer followed with seven points, Megan White with six and Kaitlin Graham added five points and four rebounds.
“Casse played extremely hard for us, and we also had good contribution out of our post,” Circleville coach Steve Kalinoski said. “Kellie Willis, White and Graham all stepped up inside and that gives us another threat people have to guard against.”
Miami Trace (19-3) broke a 14-14 tie after the first period with a 9-2 run, paced by Jenna Cobb hitting a three-pointer and making a pair of free throws.
“We came out and did a good job of executing our game plan for most of the first half,” Miami Trace coach James Stutzman said. “At the end of the first half, we started to have some breakdowns on defense, and we never could recover.”
Circleville (20-2) began its deciding run by scoring the last seven points of the first half. Mogan connected on three-straight shots and Willis added a free throw to tie the game at 23-23 going to the half.
“Miami Trace started the game well and we knew we needed to answer,” Mogan said. “We started to pass the ball better and set more screens. I was able to get drive to the basket and get some open shots thanks to my teammates.”
The Lady Tigers continued its run in the third quarter, scoring 17 of the first 24 points of the period.
Palmer began the second half by taking a Scudder feed and draining a trey, putting Circleville ahead for good.
White followed with a layup and Mogan connected on a pair of three-balls, increasing the CHS lead to 34-28.
“The shot Abbey had was important to keep our run going into the second half,” Kalinoski said. “Casse added a couple of three-pointers after that and kept us going.
“The girls did a good job of passing the ball, finding each other for good shots and rebounding the basketball, which goes back to our post.”
A basket each by Graham and Mogan, along with two free throws from Willis closed the run with Circleville ahead 40-30.
The Lady Tigers outscored Miami Trace 10-6 in the final period, allowing Circleville to cut down the sectional net and punch its ticket to Southeastern High School for the Division II Southeast District tournament.
Circleville held a 23-14 advantage on the glass over Miami Trace. The Lady Tigers converted 16 of 27 shots and Miami Trace made 13 of 39 opportunities.
“We knew we had to play well defensively against them if we wanted to win,” Scudder said. “I was determined to play defense as well as I could and everybody on the team got after them.”
Cobb led Miami Trace with 17 points, but was held to six in the second half.
“We got closer to Cobb in the second half, and holding her to six points was important for us,” Kalinoski said. “We had Liz and Amanda Wade on her and they did a good job defending.”
Jordan Brust contributed seven points and Nancy Coulter had five points and seven rebounds.
“Coulter is another good threat for Miami Trace, and Megan White was on her for most of the game and did a good job,” Kalinoski said.
The Lady Tigers face Sheridan Thursday at 6:15 p.m. in the district semifinal.
Sheridan defeated Marietta 62-52 Saturday behind Kristy Swinehart scoring 23 points and Sam Robinson adding 12.