FRANKFORT – Separated by only a handful of miles, Saturday afternoon's Division II Southeast District sectional championship and neighorbood rivalry between the Chillicothe Lady Cavaliers and the Unioto Lady Shermans produced an emotional overflow crowd at Adena High School.
After watching Chillicothe jump ahead 12-2 in the first half, Unioto slowly but chipped away at the deficit, then used a 10-5 fourth quarter to record a 37-32 victory.
“The girls chipped away when they could,” Unioto coach Cyndy Driggs said. “They didn't get all 10 back at once, but we were able to get a point here and point there.”
Monique and Megan Lee each connected on a basket to open the game, and had four each for the Lady Cavaliers in the first period.
Unioto (20-1) scored its two points of the opening period on a pair of free throws by Taylor Corcoran, leaving Chillicothe ahead 10-2 after one. Unioto's Shiann Ray connected on four free throws following a Chillicothe bucket in the opening minutes of the second quarter, and Savannah Fouty hit Unioto's first field goal 11 minutes and 18 seconds into the game to bring the Lady Shermans to within four.
“Chillicothe did a good job taking the middle away from us on offense,” Driggs said. “Chillicothe is a very good team and they made us have to work hard for what we got.
“Our defense kept us in the game and allowed the comeback. Our girls made them work hard too, and we were able to force 17 turnovers. Our approach on defense is to make the other team work hard and try to wear them out by the fourth quarter.”
Unioto took its first lead of the game at 20-18 when Janae Driggs hit a jumper just behind the foul-line in the third quarter.
Chillicothe's Jasmine Vinson tied the game at 27-27 with a layup beating the third quarter buzzer.
Unioto then connected on six of eight free throws in the fourth quarter to grab the sectional title.
The Lady Shermans shot only 26 percent from the field for the game, converting nine of 4 shots. Chillicothe (16-4) shot at a 37 percent clip, making 15 of 41 shots.
The story of the game turned out to be at the charity stripe. Unioto made 19 of 25 shots, while Chillicothe was only two of three from the line.
Unioto was led by freshman Janae Driggs nine points, followed by Ray and Chloe Cottrell with eight points each.
Chillicothe was paced by Monique Lee's 11 points points and five rebounds, while Megan Lee had 9 points and seven rebounds.
Unioto faces New Lexington Thursday in the second game of the district semifinals at Southeastern High School.