CHILLICOTHE – What is the perfect cure for the common cold?
In the case of Unioto's Mackenzie Arledge, scoring 20 points and pulling down nine rebounds was quite the medicine.
“They were a shorter team than us and our plan was to get the ball inside,” Arledge said. “We got together and made shots in the second half, and fortunately I had some chances inside I was able to make.
“I've been sick for the last couple days, but I've been feeling better. A game like this also helps out.”
Unioto used a 16-7 third quarter to break open a close game with New Lexington en route to a 50-29 win Wednesday at Southeastern High School.
“We had too many turnovers in the first half. We told the girls at halftime that we needed to settle down, handle the ball better and get our offense going,” Unioto coach Cyndy Driggs said. “The girls were able to do each of those things and that was the difference in the second half.”
The Lady Shermans (22-1) advance to the Southeast District Division II championship game Wednesday against Circleville.
Shiann Ray had 13 points and four steals for Unioto, while Janelle Hougland chipped in six.
Katy Stewart led New Lexington (9-15) with 12 points and Martha Kunkler added seven.
New Lex had been playing the role of Cinderella coming into the district semifinal game. With a record of 4-13 at the draw, the eighth-seeded Lady Panthers have since rolled off five wins, including three in the tournament. New Lex upset Alexander sectional top seed Vinton County and then won the sectional title over fourth-seed Warren.
“We won three games last year and everyone thought this would be a rebuilding year for us,” New Lex coach Anthony Stephens said. “Our seniors were hungry to get this thing going, and they came together, played hard and got everyone to buy in.
“The girls started to believe in themselves and played to their potential.
Nex Lex had more magic in store for Unioto at the beginning of the game, rolling off a quick 11-4 lead on the strength of a three-ball and layup by Stewart and two buckets from Kunkler.
“We were aggressive in the first half and took the ball right at them for some good looks,” Stephens said. “Our intensity was good in the first half and we got after it on defense.
“In the second half, they (Unioto) picked up their intensity and we didn't match it.”
Unioto came back with a 9-0 run, led by Ray scoring the last two buckets to put the Lady Shermans ahead 13-11 after one.
“Shiann did a good job on defense for us,” Driggs said. “On offense, she was able to penetrate with the basketball and create opportunities for herself and her teammates.”
The Lady Shermans led most of the second period, but a three-pointer from Kunkler with a second remaining narrowed the New Lex deficit down to 23-30 at intermission.
Arledge then helped Unioto to take control of the game in the third period, scoring a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays and finishing the quarter with eight points.
Unioto led 39-28 at the end of the third period and outscored New Lex 11-2 to finish off the game.