CHILLICOTHE – One basket in the first half usually isn't remembered at the end of a basketball game.
Except in the case of Rachael Spangler. The Circleville senior hit a big three-point basket to snap the Lady Tigers out of an offensive slump in the second quarter, and send CHS to a 39-28 win Wednesday evening over the Unioto Shermans in the Division II Southeast District championship game.
“Coach (Steve Kalinoski) told me to go in and do my thing,” Spangler said. “We wanted to see if my shot was working, and fortunately I was able to make a basket that got us going.
“We were cold from the field early, but Abbey (Palmer) made a shot, I made a shot and the shooting just seemed to catch on.”
With its second district championship in three seasons, Circleville (22-2) advances to the regional tournament at Zanesville High School next week to face the winner of Friday's Central District championship contest between Mifflin and Big Walnut.
Casse Mogan scored a game-high 20 points for the Lady Tigers to go along with nine rebounds. Kaitlin Graham had six points and six rebounds and Amanda Wade added six points and three rebounds.
Janae Driggs led Unioto with nine points, Mackenzie Arledge had eight points and 14 rebounds, while Shiann Ray added five points.
Both schools struggled from the field in the opening quarter at Southeastern High School, but a basket and two free throws from Arledge allowed Unioto to take a 6-2 lead.
“We exectuted our defensive game plan well in the first quarter and really for the whole game,” Unioto coach Cyndy Driggs said. “We held them to under 40 points.
Circleville is a really physical team though, and we didn't get a lot of second chances inside for points.”
“They came out with a box and one against us, and we were just kind of standing around,” Circleville coach Steve Kalinoski said. “We had some people taking shots they normally weren't used to.”
Circleville started the game stone cold, making only one of its first 14 shots, while committing six turnovers over the first 10 minutes and 48 seconds. The Lady Tigers began to heat up when Palmer hit a jumper, and then found Spangler open on the next CHS possession for a three-pointer, putting the Lady Tigers ahead 7-6.
“Rachael's three gave us a spark,” Kalinoski said. “We were able to extend their defense then and get our girls moving.”
Mogan expanded the brief surge into a 13-0 Circleville second quarter by scoring the final eight points of the period.
Unioto shot zero of seven from the field in the second stanza and committed six turnovers.
Circleville hit nine of 14 shots in the third period en route to doubling up Unioto 18-9.
Mogan led the Lady Tigers with eight points, Graham had three straight baskets and Wade scored a pair of buckets.
Unioto ended its nine minute, 37 second scoring drouble on a layup from Janelle Hougland in the opening minute of the second half.
The Lady Shermans finished the evening shooting 12 of 50 from the field, but most importantly were only three of six from the line. During the tournament, Unioto has made a habit of penetrating to the basket and drawing fouls to go to the free throw line.
“We packed in our man to man defense and did a good job of keeping Ray from penetrating,” Kalinoski said. “Liz Scudder and Wade did a good job on her, but really our whole team did a good job defensively against them. Holding a team like Unioto to 28 points is pretty good.”
Circleville made 17 of 46 shots and four of five free throws.
Unioto finishes the season at 22-2 and was the Scioto Valley Conference champion. Savannah Fouty and Hougland will be lost to gradation, but the Lady Shermans return a good core for next season, including Ray and Arledge.
“This has been a tremondous run for us and our seniors have helped us build for the future,” Driggs said.