Game one set the tone for a great day of basketball as an all Southern Ohio Conference match-up between Wheelersburg and the Lady Falcons of Minford went all the way down to the final buzzer before a district champion could be crowned. Wheelersburg scored the first basket in the game, but the Lady Pirates would not lead again until a Brooke Baker put-back bucket gave Wheelersburg a 31-30 lead with 54-seconds remaining in the game.
In between, it was all Minford. The Lady Falcons answered Wheelersburg’s opening bucket with 10 straight points. Overall in the first half, the Minford defense limited Wheelersburg to 23-percent shooting while allowing the Lady Pirates no free throw chances in the first 16-minutes to open up an 18-10 halftime advantage.
Wheelersburg started to show signs of cracking Minford’s 1-2-2 zone in the third quarter as the Lady Pirates got within four at 25-21 at the end of three periods. Wheelersburg continued to attack throughout the final quarter; however, Minford appeared to weather the storm as the Lady Falcons still led 30-25 with 1:52 remaining.
Unfortunately for the Lady Falcons, they would not score again. With Wheelersburg within one at 30-29, the Lady Pirates had several shots to take the lead, and they finally did so with the before mentioned field goal from Baker. Baker was the only Lady Pirate in double-figures with 10 points. The Wheelersburg senior also grabbed six rebounds.
“We kept reminding the kids it was a 32-minute game,” said Wheelersburg head coach Dusty Spradlin in response to his players continuing to battle back into the game. “Give Minford a lot of credit for their defensive effort today. I thought we were a little timid early in the game, but we stayed positive and kept plugging away.”
Coach Kim Conley’s Minford team had a solid look late in the game from Breslyn Harris, but her miss ricocheted out to the corner where a wild scramble resulted in a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring Wheelersburg. Wheelersburg did miss the front-end on the bonus opportunity, but a Sarah Schmidt steal forced Minford to foul the Wheelersburg junior guard. Schmidt knocked down both free throws to give the Lady Pirates a 33-30 advantage – a score that served as the game’s final score after Minford’s late half court shot was off line.
Minford was led by junior Whitney McManus with 10 points and seven rebounds as the Lady Falcons end their season at 14-9.
Wheelersburg advances to Lancaster this Wednesday night to face another familiar opponent in fellow SOC member Oak Hill. Oak Hill advances as a result of the before mentioned four-point victory, but the favorable side of the scoreboard is something the Lady Oaks enjoyed very little of throughout the game. In fact, Alexander led for over 28 minutes Saturday afternoon.
This trend started in the first quarter when Alexander juniors Lauren Raines and Whitney Smith connected on back-to-back triples to help the Lady Spartans open up a 19-12 lead. Still leading 30-24 at halftime, Alexander controlled the third quarter for the most part, and at one point late in the third stanza led 39-32; however, consecutive baskets from Oak Hill’s Karissa Adkins brought the Lady Oaks within 39-36 entering the final period. This four point run actually became a 10-0 run as Oak Hill scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to take its first lead since early in the first period.
Alexander responded with two Lacy Shaulis free throws and a Smith lay-up to regain a 43-42 advantage, but this is when both teams reached the bonus and the charity stripe would prove to be the difference down the stretch. In the final 4:23, Oak Hill reach the line 10 times, making six, and Alexander managed only a few trips scoring just one-point – Alex’s only point during the stretch run.
“I was really proud of all the girls just continuing to play hard.” Oak Hill head coach Doug Hale said. “It feels good to go back to the regionals. Obviously, Wheelersburg will be a familiar opponent, and I think the SOC will be well represented.”
The Lady Spartans hope of returning to the final four ends with a district runner-up finish with a record of 14-9.
In the nightcap, the first half play of Adena’s Ashley Jordan was the early storyline. The junior lefty scored 17 of her team’s 18 first half points to counter South Point’s balanced scoring that saw five Lady Pointers in the scoring column after the first two stanzas. Nonetheless, the two teams went to the locker room tied at 18 apiece.
In the third quarter, South Point’s defense adjusted nicely. The Lady Pointers began pressuring Adena’s backcourt a little more, as well as some extended zone looks in the half court, making it difficult for Jordan to get touches with room to operate.
After a Brytan Givens three-pointer put Adena up 21-18, South Point scored the next 10 points – seven from freshman Jalynn Bradburn – to open up its biggest lead of the night at 28-21. A Jordan bucket – her final field goal of the game – stopped the run making it 28-23, and then the Lady Warriors got an open-court bucket from Megan Davidson to trim the lead to three entering the final period.
The South Point lead would never grow bigger than five in the final period; however, Adena never did own a fourth-quarter advantage. Adena tied the game at 36, but a T’Ann Mayo jumper made it 38-36. The Warriors answered with a put-back basket from Kirsti Yates to tie the game at 38, but the ensuing South Point possession ended in a Bradburn lay-up to give the Pointers a 40-38 lead.
Adena had some late turnovers that cost them chances to tie; however, poor South Point free throw shooting gave the Warriors one last chance. Adena’s Kristin Snyder was fouled with less than a half second remaining. The senior forward hit the first one, but her second attempt rimmed out. Yates did get the offensive rebound but did not have enough time to get a second shot at the basket.
Adena’s season comes to a stop at 15-8. Jordan, the only Warrior in double-figures, finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
“Both teams made some mistakes down the stretch, but they did a better job of taking advantage,” said Adena head coach Lee Snyder. “I am proud of how hard the girls played. It is tough to say goodbye to three great seniors (Kristin Snyder, Carly Frazier, and Racheal Wells), but I also feel we have a lot coming back next season.”
In the win, Bradburn scored 21 points while Mayo added eight points. Next up for the 17-6 Lady Pointers will be Garaway in the regional semifinals at Lancaster Wednesday night. This match-up will follow the 6:15 P.M. Wheelersburg/Oak Hill semifinal.