Author: mattash


Oak Hill snaps Lady Jeeps’ winning streak


South Webster36Loss
Oak Hill52Win

Oak Hill snaps Lady Jeeps’ winning streak

By Paul Boggs

SOUTH WEBSTER — All streaks, whether good or bad, eventually come to an end.

Unfortunately for the South Webster Lady Jeeps, it’s how their six-game winning streak concluded on Thursday night that left a bitter taste in Ryan Dutiel’s mouth.

That’s because the Lady Jeeps, playing their third game in four nights, struggled shooting and mightily with turnovers —and didn’t get second-half defensive stops against the visiting Oak Hill Lady Oaks en route to suffering a 52-36 setback in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt.

Both clubs are now 9-5 in the league, which stands tied for third-place behind league leader Wheelersburg (13-0 SOC II) and second-place Northwest (11-3 SOC II) —although Wheelersburg has already clinched at least a share of the division championship.

The quality win for the Lady Oaks, in arguably their best overall performance of the season, raised their record to 12-8 —while South Webster is now 11-8, having seen their six-game win streak snapped.

In fact, that fifth victory of six was against Northwest on Monday night (56-52), as the now 17-3 Lady Mohawks’ only other losses are against Wheelersburg.

Oak Hill held the Lady Jeeps to their second-lowest point total of the season, thanks to South Webster scoring just six second-quarter points and only five for the final frame.

The Lady Oaks actually trailed 11-4 only three minutes in, but then reversed course —and outscored South Webster 48-25 over the final 29 minutes.

The contest featured four lead changes and two ties throughout the opening 12 minutes and 25 seconds, as the Lady Oaks went ahead at the 3:35 mark of the second quarter on a Caitlyn Brisker basket —and never looked back from there.

Instead, they only increased their advantage in the second 16 minutes —and did so to as large as 16 points twice (50-34 and 52-36) in the final 2:39.

Truth be told, it was an intense Oak Hill unit that appeared on Thursday night — as the Lady Oaks’ physicality took its toll in tiring out and cooling off the red-hot Lady Jeeps.

“It’s a great win for us. South Webster has been an up-and-coming team and improving all year. We got into a real good flow for the game and just real proud of how we handled it,” said veteran Oak Hill head coach Doug Hale. “We had a lead late, kept control of it, made some foul shots late and really guarded them. South Webster is as tough as they come in our league and if you can go out on get road wins in the SOC II, they are huge. We are glad to get one so late in the year too.”

Speaking of late, the Lady Oaks struggled in the second half of their 52-43 non-league loss against Notre Dame on Monday —after doing so against the Lady Jeeps in the two teams’ initial meeting at Oak Hill, which South Webster won 40-29.

On Thursday, South Webster was within 28-24 after scoring five straight third-period points, but a 13-7 run over the final 4:20 of the quarter extended Oak Hill’s lead to double figures —where it remained the rest of the way.

Brisker, the Lady Oaks’ senior standout, bucketed a game-high 27 points on eight total field goals and 8-of-9 free throws —including all four of her fourth-quarter attempts.

She scored 16 points in the opening half — on five total field goals and 4-of-5 foul shots —including 10 in the Lady Oaks’ opening-quarter comeback.


But, it was her third of her three three-point goals that proved to be her biggest shot —as she beat the third-quarter buzzer by dribbling between her legs, staring down her defender, squaring up and knocking down a trifecta from the wing.

That made it 41-31, and Oak Hill was just fueling up — while South Webster was running out of gas.

The Lady Jeeps only played six players on Thursday — in again the third challenging contest in four days.

The Lady Oaks’ excellent ball movement made South Webster chase and not make necessary defensive plays, especially rebounding the basketball in the second half.

“Towards the end, fatigue maybe played a factor, because we didn’t substitute a lot and we were making some mistakes defensively. But you can’t take away anything from Oak Hill. They were aggressive like they normally are, and we just didn’t bounce back the way we should,” said SWHS coach Dutiel.

Early on, it appeared as if South Webster was in a groove —as the Lady Jeeps scored seven straight points on a pair of Bri Claxon free throws, Kenzie Hornikel hitting the squad’s only three-pointer, and Claxon corralling a defensive rebound and pulling up for two to make it 11-4.

However, the Lady Jeeps’ only other points in the final five first-quarter minutes were a Rose Stephens basket at the 3:25 mark.

The Lady Oaks, including Brisker’s second three-ball, outscored South Webster 15-2 over those final five minutes —and took their second lead at 15-13.

Brisker’s first triple gave Oak Hill its initial advantage at 3-2 at the 6:45 mark.

Then, in the second stanza — and plagued by multiple missed shots and empty possessions — South Webster went a stretch of six minutes and 55 seconds without a single solitary point.

Baylee Cox converted two free throws for the 15-15 and final tie, as Faith Maloney made a putback basket off a steal just 43 seconds into the period.

The next South Webster point, though, came with just 22 seconds remaining —when Maloney made a steal and layup for a 22-19 deficit.

“That defensive stretch for us in the second quarter was huge. It built confidence,” said Hale. “Our girls’ energy and intensity was good and strong all night.”

Olivia Clarkson, who followed Brisker with 15 points on five field goals and 5-of-9 free throws, capped the first half with an old-fashioned three-point play with 13 seconds left.

The second quarter seemed to be where the Lady Jeeps’ legs lost strength.

South Webster won at Eastern on Wednesday night in an SOC II makeup matchup (60-47), but had to withstand several Eagles’ rallies in doing so.

“I didn’t call a timeout, and maybe that is something I should have done. But that’s where the legs are a little bit tired from playing a tough game last night. Playing that kind of schedule, three in four nights, for high school kids is tough on anybody,” said Dutiel. “And they contested every shot and were very physical, and a lot of things just didn’t go our way.”

Still, South Webster was only down 28-24 with four-and-a-half minutes remaining in the third, but they couldn’t contain Clarkson, who scored eight of her 15 in the canto on three field goals and 2-of-2 free throws.

Oak Hill had two-point goals from Brisker, Baylee Howard and Chloe Chambers as well, as Howard — who added eight points on four field goals — had two key offensive rebounds after missed free-throw opportunities in the fourth.

The Lady Oaks amassed an 18-12 advantage in total field goals, and attempted 20 free throws —with Brisker bagging her final 8-of-8.

“When we played them (Lady Jeeps) at Oak Hill, we had a halftime lead and we just didn’t finish. They outplayed us. We came out in the second half tonight and finished. I thought Caitlyn (Brisker) came back to get the ball late in the game where she hasn’t been doing that. It’s nice to have our best ball-handler and foul shooter have the ball in her hands,” said Hale.

South Webster’s top scorer —Claxon —led the Lady Jeeps with 10 points on three field goals and 4-of-4 free throws, while Cox chipped in nine on two fourth-quarter field goals and 5-of-6 foul shots.

Besides Cox’s baskets, the Lady Jeeps’ only other fourth-quarter marker was a Hornikel foul shot, as she ended up with eight points —after scoring seven points in the first frame.

Maloney split a pair of third-quarter free throws for five points, while Stephens scored another deuce in the third for four.

Claxon was coming off a massive season-high 33-point performance at Eastern, but definitely wasn’t expected to duplicate that effort against Oak Hill’s lockdown and pressing defense.

Dutiel did say he was “very proud of the way we battled and never gave up, and that’s an encouraging sign coming into tournament season.”

“The streak of six games, that is something we really needed. It was good for our team and a lot of confidence came from that. But going into an Oak Hill-South Webster game, everything goes out the window and it’s a street-fight,” he said. “Oak Hill is a tough team and Doug (Hale) has been around a long time and he knows the game really well. Any time you play his teams, you have to be prepared because they are well-coached.”

Oak Hill hosts Valley in the SOC II on Monday night, while South Webster will round out the regular season with another three games in a four-night week next week —starting on Monday night at Portsmouth West.

* * *

Oak Hill 15 10 16 11 — 52

South Webster 13 6 12 5—36

OAK HILL 52 (12-8, 9-5 SOC II)

Baylee Howell 0 0-2 0, Tamron McCain 0 0-0 0, Chloe Chambers 1 0-0 2, Caitlyn Brisker 8 8-9 27, Baylee Howard 4 0-0 8, Brooke Howard 0 0-0 0, Olivia Clarkson 5 5-9 19; TOTALS 18 13-20 52; Three-point goals: 3 (Caitlyn Brisker 3)

SOUTH WEBSTER 36 (11-8, 9-5 SOC II)

Faith Maloney 2 1-2 5, Liz Shupert 0 0-2 0, Kenzie Hornikel 3 1-2 8, Rose Stephens 2 0-0 4, Baylee Cox 2 5-6 9, Bri Claxon 3 4-4 10; TOTALS 12 11-16; Three-point goals: 1 (Kenzie Hornikel 1)

South Webster


Oak Hill



Date League Season
January 30, 2020 SEO 2019-20

Lady Pirates’ comeback falls short to Russell


Russell (KY)62Win

Lady Pirates’ comeback falls short to Russell

By Paul Boggs


IRONTON — For this season anyway, at least through the first 48 minutes they played there, the iron at Ironton High School’s Conley Center was unkind to the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates.

That said, in the end, if only the Lady Pirates could have —or would have — shot in the first half like they did in the second on Saturday against the Russell (Ky.) Lady Red Devils.

That’s because Wheelersburg fell behind by as much as 26 points twice in the third quarter, only to furiously storm back and finally — and miraculously — get to within four points with only five seconds remaining, before falling 62-57 to Russell as part of the annual Tackett’s Body Shop Shootout at Ironton High School.

For the Lady Pirates, they have 17 victories on the season — en route to earning a share of the Southern Ohio Conference Division II championship, and being ranked seventh for the second consecutive week in the Associated Press Ohio High School girls basketball Division III poll.

But Wheelersburg’s only now two setbacks have come inside Ironton’s Conley Center, as the Lady Pirates shot just 3-of-20 from three-point range — en route to losing at Ironton 46-43 back on Dec. 30.

Now indeed Ironton is a good defensive team, and so is the now 16-6 Lady Red Devils, which forced Wheelersburg into 5-of-22 (23-percent) first-half shooting — including 1-of-9 (11-percent) from three-point land.

They also turned the Lady Pirates over a dozen times, which is out of character for Wheelersburg, especially given how smooth — and so often — it executes its half-court dribble-drive and kick-out oriented offense.

Combine that with Russell shooting 15-of-25 from the field in the opening half for a sizzling 60-percent, including 13-of-19 from inside the arc for a fiery 68-percent against the smaller Lady Pirates, and Wheelersburg was down by as much as 45-19 and 48-22 midway through the third quarter.

Russell had amassed 19 points apiece in each of the opening two periods, and another 10 markers through the first four minutes of the third.

However, in a dramatic tale of two halves — or actually the final 11 minutes and 13 seconds to be precise — Wheelersburg began to catch fire from the field, and outscored the Lady Red Devils 35-14 over that same span.

The Lady Pirates popped five second-half three-pointers, spearheaded by 13 second-half points from Alaina Keeney and another dozen from freshman Makenna Walker —and ultimately erased the 26-point deficit down to just four at 61-57 with five seconds remaining.

But Kaeli Ross, who was named Russell’s Most Outstanding Player and who poured in a game-high 21 points on seven total field goals and 3-of-4 free throws, registered the second of a double-bonus foul-shot situation to make it 62-57 with just three seconds to play.

Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said he was plenty proud of his Lady Pirates for charging back, but wishes — of course — the first 20 minutes had played out differently.

“I honestly didn’t think our energy was very good in the first half. When you are not making shots and then you have somebody else who is making shots, there were times it was just way too easy for them (Red Devils). Some of that is how good they are, and some of that is we have to be better defensively. But I give our kids credit for crawling right back into the game when they could have folded,” said Spradlin. “We just didn’t play with any kind of urgency in that first half. In the second half, we played with all kinds of urgency, but there was nothing else to do at that point.”

After trailing 2-0 on a Kaylee Darnell basket just 46 seconds in and then again at 5-2 on Keeney canning a three-pointer on the next Lady Pirate possession at the 6:50 mark, the Lady Red Devils —one of the top programs in Kentucky’s 16th District —didn’t allow another field goal for the next nine-and-a-half minutes.

In fact, the only Lady Pirate points over that span were a pair of Darnell free throws at the 1:47 mark of the opening quarter.

By then, the experienced and speedy Lady Red Devils —which featured three frontcourt starters at each six-foot tall combined with the 5-9 senior Ross and eighth-grade sensation Shaelyn Steele — dialed up 10 consecutive points to lead 15-7.

Speaking of 15-7, that was the total in which Wheelersburg was outrebounded by Russell in the opening half —in which it trailed 19-7 after the first quarter and 38-15 at halftime.

Ross — who rained in four of the Lady Red Devils’ six three-point goals including a key one in the fourth quarter to temporarily trip up the Lady Pirates’ remarkable rally — recorded her second three with 21 seconds left in the second stanza for Russell’s largest lead by that point.

Ross amounted 14 first-half points, including her three-pointer that tied it at 5-5, as Steele scored 12 in the first 16 minutes —part of 18 for the entire game on seven total field goals and 3-of-7 free throws.

“They have size underneath, they have a really good point guard (Steele) in the eighth-grader, they have another shooter (Ross). There are a lot of matchup troubles with them,” said Spradlin. “When you help off too much on the point guard, you’re giving the post player a layup and you have another shooter that you have to worry about who can score off the catch or the drive.”

The Lady Red Devils’ lead soon swelled to 45-19 on Ross’ third-quarter three, followed by Bella Quinn connecting on her trifecta for the 48-22 advantage.

But Wheelersburg’s Walker and Ellie Kallner countered with threes to make it 48-31, as the Lady Pirates trailed 48-33 following three.

The Lady Red Devils’ only other points of the period were a Kate Ruggles basket and two free throws from Aubrey Hill, who had 10 first-half points on four first-quarter field goals and 2-of-2 second-quarter foul shots.

Walker, who was named Wheelersburg’s MOP with 14 points on five total field goals and 3-of-3 freebies, drove in for an old-fashioned thee-point play to make it 48-36 with 6:34 remaining — followed by Keeney converting another three for a 50-39 deficit 56 seconds later.

Keeney and Darnell delivered a team-high 15 points apiece, and sandwiched a Lady Pirate pair of triples around Ross’ for Russell for a pair of nine-point (55-46 and 58-49) deficits.

Steele scored at the two-minute mark to make it 60-51, but the Lady Red Devils didn’t make their free throws in the fourth —meshing just 4-of-10 after opening the first three quarters 8-of-8.

Ross, however, hit her second attempt with only three tics to go —making it 62-57 and the Lady Pirates unable to charge back any further.

The end also kept Darnell from scoring her 1,000th career point on Saturday, as she sits just two points shy of the milestone — and will most likely get it early on Monday night in the Lady Pirates’ SOC II tilt against Eastern.

Russell held her to only 4-of-18 shooting, but she sank a perfect 6-of-6 free throws — part of 9-of-10 for Wheelersburg as a team.

Both clubs attempted 52 total field goals and drilled six threes, but Wheelersburg took 21 tries (29-percent) — while Russell only attempted a dozen (50-percent) from deep.

The Lady Pirates posted a 48-percent shooting clip from two-point range on 15-of-31, while Russell shot 40-percent (16-of-40) from inside the arc.

Kallner chipped in two deuces in addition to her trey for seven points, as she also led Wheelersburg with eight rebounds —  and dished out eight assists.

Lexie Rucker in the second quarter, and Macee Eaton and Brittani Wolfenbarker in the third, added a basket apiece for the Lady Pirates.

Spradlin said his squad put forth a “fantastic effort” in the second half.

“I like to play teams that are good and see what we have to work on. We obviously shot the ball better in the second half, but it’s funny how those things happen. We always talk about how those things are contagious,” he said. “The good body language is contagious and the bad body language is contagious. In the first half, we felt a little sorry for ourselves because they were making shots and we weren’t. It’s so easy to get down on yourself. Our effort and body language was so much better in the second half, and it seemed like our shooting came along with that.”

The Lady Pirates, as aforementioned, play on Monday night against visiting Eastern —with an opportunity to lock up the SOC II championship outright.

At least, with three regular-season tilts to go, Wheelersburg won’t be returning to Ironton this season — where the iron was indeed unkind.

* * *

Russell 19 19 10 14 — 62

Wheelersburg 7 8 18 24—57

RUSSELL 62 (16-6)

Shaelyn Steele 7 3-7 18, Bella Quinn 1 0-0 3, Kaeli Ross 7 3-4 21, Malia Blevins 2 2-3 6, Kate Ruggles 1 0-0 2, Campbell Jachimczuk 0 0-0 0, Aubrey Hill 4 4-4 12; TOTALS 22 12-18 62; Three-point goals: 6 (Kaeli Ross 4, Shaelyn Steele and Bella Quinn 1 apiece)


Lauren Jolly 0 0-0 0, Brittani Wolfenbarker 1 0-0 2, Lani Irwin 0 0-0 0, Alaina Keeney 6 0-0 15, Ellie Kallner 3 0-0 7, Kaylee Darnell 4 6-6 15, Makenna Walker 5 3-3 14, Lexie Rucker 1 0-0 2, Macee Eaton 1 0-1 2; TOTALS 21 9-10 57; Three-point goals: 6 (Alaina Keeney 3, Ellie Kallner, Kaylee Darnell and Makenna Walker 1 apiece)

Russell (KY)





Date League Season
February 1, 2020 SEO 2019-20



2nd quarter dooms Lady Titans against Ashland


Ashland (KY)52Win
Notre Dame41Loss

2nd quarter dooms Lady Titans against Ashland

By Paul Boggs



IRONTON — Unfortunately for the Notre Dame Lady Titans on Saturday, it was a four-quarter contest — not three.

That’s because the Lady Titans’ second-quarter struggles simply doomed them against Ashland — as Notre Dame did not make a single solitary field goal in the period, and ultimately it fell short in its comeback against the Lady Kittens 52-41 inside Ironton High School’s Conley Center as part of the annual Tackett’s Body Shop Shootout.

That’s correct.

Not one field goal — a two OR a three —for the Lady Titans in the second eight minutes, part of an epic and entire scoring drought that spanned a total of six minutes and 34 seconds.

As for the failure to make a single shot, that total time stretched from the 1:37 mark of the opening quarter until the 6:41 juncture of the third frame.

For those into clock-watching, that covers an elapsed time of 10 minutes and 56 seconds.

Otherwise, aside from that second quarter, the Lady Titans would have won 40-36 —thanks to a pair of 14-point second-half quarters after leading 12-8 at the end of the first.

In that second half, Notre Dame —a Division IV program playing Ashland, which is the equivalent of at least a large Division II team in Ohio — did make a strong rally, erasing a 14-point (27-13) deficit with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter all the way down to three points three minutes and four seconds later.

However, Ashland senior Julia Parker —who poured in a game-high 22 points including four three-point goals and a perfect 6-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes — popped a three on the ensuing possession, and the Lady Titans never got any closer.

The loss was just Notre Dame’s second of the season against 18 victories — as the Lady Titans were coming off capturing another outright Southern Ohio Conference Division I championship on Thursday night.

But, both defeats have come against MUCH larger schools, as Ashland’s enrollment —in grades nine thru 12 — is 882 compared to a mere 106 students for Notre Dame.

Two weeks ago, the Lady Titans raced out to an 18-point first-half advantage on Spring Valley — a Class AAA program in West Virginia — only to completely lose that lead and fall 64-57.

This time, on Saturday, after opening up a 12-5 first-quarter advantage at the 1:37 mark, the Lady Titans’ struggles started sooner.

Notre Dame committed seven of its nine turnovers in the second quarter, but more obvious was its poor shooting — and subsequent inability to get stops on the defensive end.

In fact, the Lady Titans took just eight floor shots in the second —five of which were from three-point range.

In all, Notre Dame dialed up 21 three-point attempts, as Ava Hassel hit the club’s only pair —on the game’s opening possession and again with 4:46 remaining when the Lady Titans trimmed the deficit to five (40-35) for the first time in exactly 15-and-a-half minutes.

The Lady Titans shot 16-of-54 for 30-percent, including 5-of-23 for 22-percent in the first half.

Not to mention, they missed four of their six free throws in the second stanza.

Notre Dame head coach J.D. McKenzie described the 16-1 second-quarter difference as “self-inflicted”.

“We have not shot the ball well for the last three games, and all three games have been on the road, and that has a lot to do with it. I didn’t think our shot selection was necessarily bad tonight, but we had chances in the second quarter to make some free throws, and we missed some easy bunnies and a couple open looks from three. When we’re not making shots, we can’t dictate what we want to defensively. We turned the ball over and we had some missed assignments too,” he said. “Aside from that second quarter, I thought we played pretty well against a really good team. But no field goals, I don’t know if that’s ever happened to me in a quarter in my life.”

If that wasn’t wrong-sided history enough to be part of, then Taylor Schmidt saved the day and averted the stanza shutout — with a split of free throws at the 3:03 mark.

It didn’t help that the Lady Kittens canned three three-pointers in the period, including a pair by Parker and one by Jada Miller — for a 24-13 halftime advantage.

Parker — the Lady Kittens’ Most Outstanding Player —pumped in her first trifecta to trim the deficit to 6-5, then Carley Cullup connected from long distance to close the first quarter at 12-8 and opened the third canto with her other three-ball.

Finally, Notre Dame’s Claire Detwiller ended its drought after almost 11 full minutes —before Detwiller and Hassel had old-fashioned three-point plays only 50 seconds apart to get the Lady Titans to within six at 27-21 at the four-and-a-half minute mark.

From there, the Lady Kittens maintained a lead of six, seven or eight points over the next 7:45, before Hassel hit her second three —and Ashland turned the ball over as Schmidt scored to make it 40-37 with 3:50 remaining.

But Parker, from the corner pocket, splashed her fourth and final —and most impactful —triple, as Notre Dame didn’t score on it next possession while Parker posted her second deuce of the period on the possession following.

Hassel had another old-fashioned three-point play to make it 45-40 with 2:19 to go, but Ashland scored seven of the final eight points —with Hassel hitting a foul shot with 1:48 left for the Lady Titans’ final marker.

Ashland shot 43-percent from the field on 18-of-42, including 11-of-23 from two-point territory.

“Besides that second quarter, I thought it was a pretty even game,” said McKenzie. “I’m not going to say Ashland is head and shoulders better than us, because I think we are a pretty good team, but they had a better day shooting than we did. We just couldn’t get over that hump once we got down double digits. And we couldn’t get that extra stop tonight, although Ashland has pretty good offensive players. I was really proud of the resiliency of the girls.”

Detwiller, named Notre Dame’s MOP, delivered a double-double of 13 points on six field goals and 11 rebounds — while Hassel tied her with 13 points on four total field goals and 3-of-4 free throws.

Lauren Campbell chipped in two first-quarter baskets and pulled down 10 boards — as Schmidt, Isabel Cassidy and Olivia Smith scored a bucket and foul shot apiece.

Cassie Schaefer had a third-quarter field goal to round out the Notre Dame scoring.

In addition to Parker, Mikayla Martin made five field goals for 10 points for the now 14-6 Lady Kittens, and grabbed nine rebounds before fouling out with 2:41 to play.

The Lady Titans return home, and return to non-league action, on Monday night against Minford.

The Lady Falcons are a Division III program, but McKenzie prefers his Lady Titans see what they are made of against bigger schools.

Had it not been for that second quarter on Saturday, maybe Notre Dame does knock off the Lady Kittens from Kentucky.

“I want us to play much bigger schools and against good competition. I am proud of how the girls handled it and came together today,” said McKenzie. “Just wish our shots start falling again.”

Notre Dame wraps up the regular season, and an opportunity at another undefeated SOC I campaign, when it hosts Green on Thursday.

* * *

Notre Dame 12 1 14 14 — 41

Ashland 8 16 9 19—52

NOTRE DAME 41 (18-2)

Taylor Schmidt 1 1-2 3, Ava Hassel 4 3-4 13, Cassie Schaefer 1 0-0 2, Olivia Smith 1 1-2 3, Claire Detwiller 6 1-1 13, Isabel Cassidy 1 1-2 3, Lauren Campbell 2 0-2 4; TOTALS 16 7-13 41; Three-point goals: 2 (Ava Hassel 2)

ASHLAND 52 (14-6)

Jada Miller 1 0-0 3, Morgan Bradley 2 2-4 6, Syd Sorrell 1 1-3 3, Carley Cullup 3 0-0 8, Julia Parker 6 6-6 22, Mikayla Martin 5 0-0 10; TOTALS 18 9-13 52; Three-point goals: 7 (Julia Parker 4, Carley Cullup 2, Jada Miller 1)

Ashland (KY)


Notre Dame



Date League Season
February 1, 2020 SEO 2019-20


Ashland (KY)

WHEELERSBURG — Indeed, Wheelersburg’s Alli McQuay can’t complain

WHEELERSBURG — Indeed, Wheelersburg’s Alli McQuay can’t complain.

Already a regional champion with her Lady Pirate teammates, and individually a Division III first-team all-Ohioan, McQuay continues to make positive headlines in her outstanding volleyball career.

While Wheelersburg’s chapter came to an end with a state tournament berth, her latest narrative started officially on Wednesday morning —when McQuay announced her intention to play college volleyball with the close-to-home Shawnee State University Bears.

McQuay’s signing ceremony took place at Wheelersburg High School, as she was flanked by her parents Rob and Cindy McQuay; Wheelersburg High School head volleyball coach Allen Perry, Shawnee State University assistant volleyball coach Devan Scarberry; her Lady Pirate teammates and several other family members and friends.

Last season, the five-foot 10-inch middle hitter McQuay —and fellow senior Mallory Bergan —co-captained the Lady Pirates all the way to the program’s first-ever regional championship in the sport.

In addition, by being named the District 14 Coaches Association Division III Player of the Year, McQuay captured first-team all-Ohio honors.

She now becomes a Bear, but more importantly continues playing for four more years the sport she simply loves.

“Four more years of the sport I love to do. I’m very excited about it,” said McQuay.

She should be, as Shawnee State is roughly 20 minutes from Wheelersburg —and remaining nearby for her family and friends to watch her play was important.

The Bears are an NAIA Division I program, although they are currently interviewing and continuing the hiring process for a new head coach.

Susan Shelton, the coach of the past nine seasons, resigned f0llowing the 2019 campaign.

The Scioto County native Scarberry, who served as Shelton’s assistant for five years, remains on the staff —and naturally has been heavily involved in the recruitment of McQuay.

Although, McQuay said she wanted to stay home —and go far.

“I knew I didn’t want to go far for school, and so I’ve been talking to programs and probably the farthest is like three hours away. I just kept narrowing it down and narrowing it down, and Shawnee is really just a good fit,” she said. “I’m not going to have any debt, it’s close to home, I can run up to church on Sundays and my family is around.”

Volleyball began at Wheelersburg High for McQuay as — in fact — a family affair, as her sister was a Pirate senior when she was a freshman.

She played primarily in a reserve role that year, but still saw 72 sets worth of match action.

In her final three seasons, as Perry took over the program in McQuay’s sophomore year, the Lady Pirates captured the Division III Southeast District championship —with her senior season co-captaining along with Bergan.

“I loved playing here at Wheelersburg,” said McQuay. “My sophomore year, were really started to get better and explode. We won districts and made it to the regionals, but we didn’t do anything and got swept. But this year, we just said we’re making it.”

Did the Lady Pirates ever.

This year, Wheelersburg rolled to another Southern Ohio Conference Division II title, and went a perfect 22-0 in the regular season — without losing even an entire set in 61 sets played.

“At team camp, we hadn’t had any practices, and we were looking so good. We just told ourselves that we’re going to do it. We came and worked hard every day, and just had that mindset that nothing was going to stop us,” said McQuay.

Of course, that consecutive sets won streak is a program record —as the Lady Pirates played exactly 73 sets before finally losing one, or actually the first two, in the regional championship match against Hiland.

“It’s just really cool to say we did that. Not many teams across the country can say they won 73 sets in a row,” said McQuay. “It just kept our momentum rolling and we kept telling ourselves that streak is not going to end. And even when it did end, we said our season is not over. We still have some time.”

Indeed, as Yogi Berra would say, it isn’t over until it’s over.

That’s because in absolutely epic, unbelievable and miraculous fashion — and even facing match point by the Hawks in the third game — Wheelersburg avoided elimination by scoring the final three points to stunningly win that set 26-24.

The Lady Pirates then won the fourth set 25-20, and simply dominated the fifth and decisive set 15-5 to punch their ticket to their history-making — yet coveted — state tournament.

“We just worked hard and believed we were going to do that (advance to state). As a senior and as a co-captain, I wanted to go. I did NOT want to lose,” said McQuay.

The Lady Pirates finished 27-1 in 2019 — after also going 22-0 in the regular season the year before, while finishing 26-1 and losing to state power Tuscarawas Valley in the regional final.

McQuay’s career ended at Wheelersburg with her amassing 791 kills in 315 sets played.

She played in at least 72 sets all four years, while consistently recording 268 kills as a sophomore, 255 as a junior and 254 as a senior.

She also had at least 577 attacks over those final three seasons, including 633 as a junior.

Her hitting percentage for her career was .302, as she also collected 134 blocks including 40 solo —and served up 151 aces.

Perry praised McQuay’s work ethic and commitment to the sport — and said she was the Lady Pirates’ “go-to” gal.

“Alli is a hard worker, she studies the game, and is just very dedicated to the game. I couldn’t be more proud of her than today,” said the coach. “As a sophomore, when I took over the program, she was already well-trained. She had played for club teams and stuff like that for so long, so her game was well-developed. Just her maturity as a player developed for three years. She developed into a great court leader, and someone whom we looked for when we needed that crunch point. She was clutch. Anytime that we were struggling, we would look for her. She is just a smart player, she can put the ball down and get us a point. There were a lot of schools looking at her, but I’m just excited for her to be able to play at Shawnee State for herself. I know she wanted to be there.”

McQuay said she will be a right-side hitter at the collegiate level, and expressed a desire to improve upon her overall strength.

“I just need to get stronger all around. That will significantly help my play,” she said. “And I’m going to outwork everyone until I make it on the court.”

She said she is undecided upon a major, but knows she wanted to be a Bear.

Indeed, it’s Shawnee State all the way for McQuay —just the latest positive vibe in her decorated career.

Burg takes 1st place lead with win over Northwest



WHEELERSBURG — While Wheelersburg will fire away, and often make, three-point goals each and every outing — the Lady Pirates indeed get defensive like nobody’s business.

And, after all, championships —especially in basketball —are won with the defensive end, and the host Lady Pirates pitched a gem of such against the Northwest Lady Mohawks in Thursday night’s massive Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt.

With first-place in the division at stake, Wheelersburg — the defending SOC II champion and current league leader —stymied the Lady Mohawks for 32 points over the final 28 minutes and 52 seconds, and captured a critical 56-42 victory in its bid to go back-to-back and wire-to-wire.

That’s correct.

After limiting the Lady Mohawks to their season-low of 35 points in a 44-35 triumph back on Dec. 12, Wheelersburg went at least four minutes and 50 seconds — TWICE — without allowing a single solitary Northwest first-half point.

By the end of the third quarter, the Lady Pirates pushed their advantage to their largest at 17 points (45-28), before fending off a hard-charging Mohawk comeback bid that actually closed the gap to nine points (47-38 and 49-40) twice.

In fact, the Lady Mohawks had a chance to get within seven with three minutes remaining, but missed a shot from short range —as Ellie Kallner and Makenna Walker canned back-to-back three-pointers to end the threat and salt the win.

And, it wasn’t just any ordinary win for Wheelersburg.

The Lady Pirates, ranked seventh in the third weekly Associated Press Ohio High School girls basketball Division III poll, posted their 15th victory in 16 tries —their only setback coming by three points at ninth-ranked Ironton on Dec. 30.

More importantly, they are now better by the dozen atop the SOC II — with a 12-0 league record and only four more league duels left.

The loss left Northwest with a 16-2 record, and an 11-2 tally in the division — with its only two defeats coming against the Lady Pirates.

If Wheelersburg wins its two SOC II road shows next week, including at Minford on Monday night and at Waverly on Thursday night, it will clinch at least a share of its second straight SOC II championship.

What won Wheelersburg Thursday night’s return bout was its lock-down defense, its depth and its experience — as the Lady Pirates forced 21 turnovers compared to only committing six, and went nine deep compared to only six for the Lady Mohawks’ majority minutes.

Following Northwest racing out to a 10-2 lead in a matter of three minutes and eight seconds, including a three-pointer by Haidyn Wamsley right off the opening tip, the Lady Pirates simply put the clamps down.

The Lady Mohawks had 13 first-half turnovers, attempted only 19 first-half shots, and amounted just eight points over the final 12 minutes and 52 seconds of that opening half.

Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said his squad’s defensive effort was “phenomenal”.

“Our goal is always to try to make things as tough as possible on people. From the point it was 10-2, we were really good defensively and we forced some tough shots. They finished with 18 in the first half. It was a lot of kids too, because we rotated in a lot of kids tonight. We wanted to use our depth to make it as difficult as we could on them,” he said.

The Lady Pirates did just that, as eight of the nine that played reached the scoring column —with only Alaina Keeney reaching double figures for a game-high 14 points, on five field goals and 3-of-4 free throws.

Wheelersburg led for the final 23 minutes and 25 seconds, as the Lady Pirates put together nine unanswered points in the final 4:35 of the opening period —taking their first lead at 11-10 on a big Brittani Wolfenbarker three-pointer off the bench.

But the senior Wolfenbarker, already a Shawnee State softball signee, wasn’t done.

With Wheelersburg leading 13-12, she pulled the trigger again —and splashed another trifecta to truly get the Lady Pirates kick-started.

“We’ve been saying for some time that one of these nights, a team is going to catch one of her good shooting nights. Brittani is a kid who can shoot the ball really well. She has shown some flashes like that,” said Spradlin. “She came in tonight and hit those two pretty quick ones. Those role players, those bench players came in and were important for us.”

Kallner, who followed Keeney with nine points, connected for her initial three-pointer to make it 19-14 with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter —and Northwest never was within five points for the final 21 minutes and five seconds.

Northwest coach Dave Frantz said “Wheelersburg is the most athletic and quickest team we’ll see all year, no doubt”.

Frantz, the Lady Mohawks’ track and field coach who is familiar with that Lady Pirate program, also discussed how deep and quick they are.

“They bring in several girls off the bench, but they are athletic with that. Their depth and athleticism hurt us tonight,” he said. “It was a physical game too, and I felt like they out-physicaled us at times. That’s where we have to just learn.”

In addition to Wolfenbarker’s two triples, Macee Eaton added eight points on three field goals and 2-of-2 third-quarter free throws, while Walker chipped in two deuces besides her comeback-killing fourth-quarter trey.

Lexie Rucker, who played in the second quarter, also helped out.

In fact, Wheelersburg’s leading scorer on the season — junior Kaylee Darnell —scored a season-low seven points on two field goals and 3-of-4 free throws.

But, the Lady Pirates play so well as a team that Darnell doesn’t necessarily need to go off for 20-plus points every single night.

Especially defensively, as Northwest went the final 4:52 of the first quarter without a point —as well as a 4:50 stretch of the second period.

After Wamsley scored to get the Lady Mohawks to within 19-16 with 5:43 to go before halftime, Wheelersburg went for nine more unanswered — including Lani Irwin’s three that made it 24-16 with 3:07 showing.

Keirah Potts, the Lady Mohawks’ sole senior and who paced the guests with 11 points on five total field goals, ended the epic droughts both times.

With Wheelersburg leading 28-18 at halftime, Keeney spearheaded the third-quarter onslaught, scoring eight of her 14 in the canto, including her only three-pointer that made it 43-28 with 30 seconds remaining.

Walker then made a steal and layup on the next possession, resulting in a 34-18 outscoring of the Lady Mohawks in the middle two stanzas — as Wheelersburg was up 45-28 following three.

The Lady Pirates held a 20-18 advantage in total field goals, but scored 21 points off seven three-pointers — and made more foul shots (nine) than Northwest even attempted (seven).

Spradlin said his team had to settle down offensively after the slow start, which it did.

“I thought they (Lady Mohawks) got a little tired in stretches, and I thought our ball movement and offensive rebounding was good all night. We also did a good job of picking our points, knowing when to pull up and shoot the little short jumper and when to keep driving and draw some contact. Northwest’s length comes into play, and even when we get around some of their defenders, you still have to finish over top of them. They are big, they are athletic, they are well-coached and they all play hard with a lot of intensity and effort,” he said.

And, as Frantz said, they don’t give up.

Potts played with a serious flu-bug, and Reagan Lewis was the only substitute of two total which played in all four quarters.

Wamsley wound up with nine points on four field goals, as Valerie Copas scored seven, including a three-pointer to make it 8-2 and another to get the Lady Mohawks to within 47-38 with 4:22 remaining.

Trailing 49-40, the Mohawks missed an excellent opportunity to get within seven —and were outscored 7-2 over the final 2:45.

After Kallner and Walker’s threes made it 55-42, Kallner split a pair of free throws for the final point.

“Our girls never gave up. We go down 17, the next thing we get it back to 12, then get it back to nine twice. We came here ready for the fight, and I thought we gave a fight,” said Frantz. “Keirah Potts missed the last two days of school…sick as can be. She never came out of the game tonight and she wasn’t going to. She was going to be our senior leader. Some of these girls never came out of the game.”

Kloe Montgomery scored six points on three baskets, Ava Jenkins had five points in the fourth frame, and Lewis landed two buckets for four for the Lady Mohawks.

Frantz was asked if he would like a third matchup with Wheelersburg — which would, of course, occur in the Division III postseason tournament.

Thursday’s contest sure felt like a tournament tilt — with a good crowd in attendance for both clubs.

“Wheelersburg is one of the best teams in the area. But our girls will welcome a matchup with anybody,” he said. “We would love to see Wheelersburg again, which means we would both have advanced pretty far. Dusty (Spradlin) does a nice job with his girls, and the best team won tonight. But we’ll bounce back. We will. I am very proud of our girls and how hard we worked and prepared for this game. Just wish we could have came out on the other (winning) end.”

That was what Wheelersburg did —to now take a stranglehold on the SOC II.

“We have four league games and two non-league games left,” said Spradlin. “This is a good win for us, but there’s no rest. We’ll get back to work and hopefully we can continue to finish this regular season strong.”

Wheelersburg will travel to Greenup County on Saturday for one of those two non-league encounters, while Northwest will return to the road —and return to SOC II action —on Monday night at South Webster.

* * *

Northwest 10 8 10 14 — 42

Wheelersburg 11 17 17 11 — 56

NORTHWEST 42 (16-2, 11-2 SOC II)

Terah Webb 0 0-0 0, Valerie Copas 2 1-5 7, Haidyn Wamsley 4 0-0 9, Keirah Potts 5 0-0 11, Ava Jenkins 2 1-1 5, Reagan Lewis 2 0-0 4, Kloe Montgomery 3 0-1 6; TOTALS 18 2-7 42; Three-point goals: 4 (Valerie Copas 2, Haidyn Wamsley and Keirah Potts 1 apiece)

WHEELERSBURG 56 (15-1, 12-0 SOC II)

Lauren Jolly 1 0-1 2 Brittani Wolfenbarker 2 0-0 6, Lani Irwin 1 0-0 3, Alaina Keeney 5 3-4 14, Ellie Kallner 3 1-2 9, Kaylee Darnell 2 3-4 7, Makenna Walker 3 0-0 7, Lexie Rucker 0 0-0 0, Macee Eaton 3 2-2 8; TOTALS 20 9-13 56; Three-point goals: 7 (Brittani Wolfenbarker and Ellie Kallner 2 apiece, Lani Irwin, Alaina Keeney and Makenna Walker 1 apiece)


# Player Class PTS REB AST STL BLK
Brittani Wolfenbarker-60000
Lani Irwin-30000
Lexie Rucker-00000
Makenna Walker-70000
Macee Eaton-80000
Kaylee Darnell-70000
Alaina Keeney-140000
Ellie Kallner-90000
Lauren Jolly-20000
 Total 560000


# Player Class PTS REB AST STL BLK
Haidyn Wamsley-90000
Keirah Potts-110000
Ava Jenkins-50000
Reagan Lewis-40000
Kloe Montgomery-60000
Terah Webb-00000
Valeria Copas-70000
 Total 420000


Date League Season
January 23, 2020 SEO 2019-20



Keeney, Lady Pirates chop down Oaks


Oak Hill40Loss

Keeney, Lady Pirates chop down Oaks

“Burg hits 10 3s in 58-40 win

By Paul Boggs


WHEELERSBURG — Usually, any game against the tradition-rich Oak Hill Lady Oaks is a “big” one —and not exactly a “trap” matchup.

But on Monday night, ahead of Thursday night’s massive encore against visiting Northwest, the host Wheelersburg Lady Pirates played the Lady Oaks in what amounted to that “trap” tilt for the Orange and Black.

However, no worries for Alaina Keeney and her Lady Pirate company, as Wheelersburg avoided any traps — or speedbumps —on its road to meeting the Lady Mohawks.

That’s because Keeney canned half of the Lady Pirates’ 10 three-point goals, Kaylee Darnell drained four herself, and Wheelersburg rolled to a 58-40 Southern Ohio Conference Division II victory and completed the season sweep of Oak Hill.

“Teams are going to try and do different things against us the second time around, but it was another great effort by our kids where we did a lot of good things again,” said Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin. “Overall, another good win in the SOC II to keep us plugging along here.”

The Lady Oaks’ only lead was at 2-0 just 15 seconds in, as the Lady Pirates reeled off the next 10 points over the next three minutes — and Wheelersburg began to bomb away from three-point land en route to the runaway win.

The Lady Oaks only got to within 10-4 in the opening quarter and 17-12 in the second on a Baylee Howell three-pointer, as it was Wheelersburg unleashing a fury of threes over a span of 16 minutes.

Against Oak Hill’s zone or junk defenses, the Lady Pirates popped 10 total trifectas —five from Keeney towards her game-high 19 points, four from Darnell towards her 16 points, and one from Ellie Kallner which made it 8-2 early in the first quarter.

“That’s where the good ball movement and unselfish play comes in,” said Spradlin. “Alaina (Keeney) really made them pay. Last game, it was Ellie (Kallner) which made West pay. Tonight, Oak Hill tried to guard three of our kids (Keeney, Kallner and Darnell) and put two others in the paint. It’s important for us to be ready for those things, make good decisions and make sure we get good shots every trip.”

With the victory, the Lady Pirates —the defending SOC II champions and current league leaders — raised their stellar record to 14-1, and are now 11-0 in the division.

They also cleared the way for Thursday’s SOC II bout against Northwest, which is 11-1 in the league (16-1 overall) —as Wheelersburg won 44-35 at Northwest on Dec. 12 for the Lady Mohawks’ only loss.

More on that one in a bit.

Typically, a meeting with the Mohawks might serve as a “trap” for the Lady Pirates — in anticipation with a showdown against Oak Hill, one of the most successful girls basketball programs in Ohio under veteran head coach Doug Hale.

The Lady Oaks, in addition to several times taking the SOC II title, are the three-time Division III state runners-up (2004, 2009 and 2011).

But this season, Oak Hill has been up-and-down —and fell to 10-7 and 7-5 in the SOC II.

Wheelersburg completed the season sweep, as the Lady Pirates captured a 49-34 victory at Oak Hill on Dec. 9.

They didn’t make 10 treys that night, but Wheelersburg’s excellent ball movement had the Lady Oaks chasing on Monday —and often times the Lady Pirates’ three-ball attempts were wide open.

Wheelersburg attempted 29 threes, so while their 34-percent from beyond the arc might not sound the greatest, the 30 points off those 10 certainly does.

Keeney connected for the opening three followed by Kallner, as Keeney’s second splash from distance made it 13-4 halfway through the first period.

In the second stanza, Darnell drained one at the five-minute mark to immediately answer Howell hitting hers only 40 seconds earlier, as Oak Hill was never within eight the remainder of the way.

In fact, Keeney’s corner-pocket shot secured a double-digit advantage at 25-14, as the Lady Pirates never allowed their lead to dip into single digits for the final 19 minutes and 40 seconds.

Keeney’s fourth three made it 32-18 for the Lady Pirates’ largest first-half margin with 1:23 remaining, as the five-foot nine-inch sophomore scored 14 of her 19 in the opening half.

But Wheelersburg wasn’t done dialing in from deep.

Keeney, from the top of the key on the opening possession of the third quarter, connected again —before three more from Darnell upped the advantage to the Lady Pirates’ largest margin each time (40-23, 43-23 and 46-25).

Wheelersburg held a commanding 50-32 advantage following the third frame, as both squads scored eight points in the fourth for the 58-40 final score.

Spradlin said the Lady Pirates’ rebounding ability, especially offensively, allowed for extra opportunities behind the three-point line.

Some of the rebounds went long, where Wheelersburg’s guards —Lani Irwin and Lauren Jolly —just gathered up the ball and kicked out to either Keeney, Kallner or Darnell.

Wheelersburg outrebounded Oak Hill 12-5 in the first quarter alone to set the tone, and had some possessions of two, three or even four offensive boards.

“We don’t have a true post player, so we try to rebound with our speed and our athleticism,” said Spradlin. “We get Lani (Irwin) and Lauren (Jolly) gravitating to the ball a lot of times. And when they get it, they are really good about getting it out to open shooters. Alaina made a couple of hers off those. “

Macee Eaton netted nine points for the Lady Pirates on two field goals and 5-of-6 free throws, while Kallner, Jolly, Irwin, Makenna Walker and Lexie Rucker recorded a two-point goal apiece.

Brittani Wolfenbarker, by splitting a pair of fourth-quarter foul shots, rounded out the Wheelersburg scoring.

Caitlyn Brisker, the Lady Oaks’ senior standout, bagged a team-high 18 points on four total field goals and 9-of-11 free throws.

She sank a three-pointer in the second quarter, as all 18 of her markers came over the final three periods.

Spradlin said it was important for the Lady Pirates not to let Brisker get going early.

“She (Brisker) is a tough matchup. She is so physical and so athletic. We try to put different people on her, and when she is knocking down that three, it makes her even harder to guard,” he said. “Doug (Hale) is putting her in positions to where she can get to the basket with some of the ball-screens. I thought we did a pretty good job, for the most part, to holding her to 18 and them to 40.”

Oak Hill, which only played seven players and was without Peyton Miller once again with a broken nose, had eight points on four field goals from Chloe Chambers — and six first-quarter baskets by Olivia Clarkson for six.

Oak Hill hosts Waverly on Thursday, while Wheelersburg welcomes Northwest with first-place in the SOC II at stake.

The Lady Mohawks have won several close encounters on the road —including at Oak Hill, Waverly and Minford.

Northwest will be taller and longer than the Lady Pirates, so first and foremost —Spradlin said —rebounding will be a focus.

“We’re going to have to rebound the ball really well, and not just in stretches like we did tonight, to compensate for their length and athleticism,” he said. “Hopefully, we get some great efforts and everybody hitting on all cylinders offensively on the same night.”

Indeed, Thursday’s affair is a “big” game — as the Lady Pirates avoided the Lady Oaks’ “trap” on Monday night.

“Northwest has the one loss to us, they’ve won a lot of close ballgames, and I expect Thursday to be a close ballgame,” said Spradlin. “Two good teams fighting for first-place in the conference. What else can you ask for?”

* * *

Oak Hill 8 15 9 8 — 40

Wheelersburg 15 19 16 8 — 58

OAK HILL 40 (10-7, 7-5 SOC II)

Baylee Howell 1 0-0 3, Tamron McCain 0 1-2 1, Chloe Chambers 4 0-0 8, Caitlyn Brisker 4 9-11 18, Baylee Howard 0 0-0 0, Brooke Howard 1 2-2 4, Olivia Clarkson 3 0-0 6; TOTALS 13 12-15 40; Three-point goals: 2 (Baylee Howell and Caitlyn Brisker 1 apiece)

WHEELERSBURG 58 (14-1, 11-0 SOC II)

Lauren Jolly 1 0-0 2, Brittani Wolfenbarker 0 1-2 1, Lani Irwin 1 0-0 2, Alaina Keeney 7 0-0 19, Ellie Kallner 2 0-1 5, Kaylee Darnell 5 2-4 16, Makenna Walker 1 0-0 2, Lexie Walker 1 0-0 2, Macee Eaton 2 5-6 9; TOTALS 20 8-13 58; Three-point goals: 10 (Alaina Keeney 5, Kaylee Darnell 4, Ellie Kallner 1)


# Player Class PTS REB AST STL BLK
Brittani Wolfenbarker-10000
Lani Irwin-20000
Lexie Rucker-20000
Makenna Walker-20000
Macee Eaton-90000
Kaylee Darnell-160000
Alaina Keeney-190000
Ellie Kallner-50000
Lauren Jolly-20000
 Total 580000

Oak Hill

# Player Class PTS REB AST STL BLK
Tamron McCain-10000
Chloe Chambers-80000
Brooke Howard-40000
Caitlyn Brisker2020180000
Baylee Howell-30000
Peyton Miller-00000
Olivia Clarkson-60000
 Total 400000


Date League Season
January 20, 2020 SEO 2019-20



Lady Titans lose lead, suffer first loss


Spring Valley (WV)64Win
Notre Dame57Loss

Lady Titans lose lead, suffer first loss

By Paul Boggs

Photo’s by Kent Sanborn

PROCTORVILLE — Unfortunately for the Lady Titans on Saturday, it was not the tale of two halves they wanted to hear.

As a result, Notre Dame’s undefeated season — in its bid for an amazing three in a row in fact — saw itself come to an abrupt end.

After an on-fire first half in which the Lady Titans charged out to an 18-point lead, the big-school Spring Valley (W. Va.) Lady Timberwolves went off for a monster comeback — and outscored Notre Dame 41-21 in the second half en route to handing it a 64-57 defeat for the Lady Titans’ first setback of the season.

The contest was part of the annual Tri-State Hoops Throwdown event, held inside the Carl York Center on the campus at Fairland High School.

Although there is much more basketball to be played, the Lady Titans surely would love to have Saturday’s second half — and even the final two minutes of the first half — back.

Following an Ava Hassel free throw for Notre Dame, the Lady Titans took a commanding —or so it seemed — 32-14 advantage with four minutes and 38 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

Even Isabella Cassidy canning a three-pointer from the top of the key at the 2:10 mark to make it 36-19 — there wasn’t a worry that this game could get away.

By the halfway point, the defensive-oriented Lady Titans had already forced 14 Timberwolf turnovers, stymied Spring Valley into 7-of-26 shooting for a cool 27-percent, outrebounded the West Virginians 25-16, and had splashed five three-pointers including three from Hassel.

Not to mention, Notre Dame’s Claire Detwiller dominated on the inside with 10 first-half rebounds and nine points, and Spring Valley’s two tallest players —Caroline Asbury and Ella Edwards —had already picked up three personal fouls.

But, as Newfound Glory once sang, it was all downhill from here.

In a roaring rally, the young Timberwolves went kamikaze on the Lady Titans — nearly doubling them up in each of the final two quarters 23-12 and 19-9.

Simply put, Notre Dame got to playing way too fast, took too many quick shots, committed 13 turnovers in the second 16 minutes — and most importantly saw its nearly 20-point lead and its undefeated season evaporate with it.

The Timberwolves — which had held leads of 7-4 and 9-6 — took their first lead since the 1:45 mark of the first quarter with five minutes remaining to break a 52-52 tie.

Detwiller scored 30 seconds later for a 54-54 deadlock, but Spring Valley reeled off the next 10 points for its largest advantage — as ND’s Cassie Schaefer sank a three-pointer with six seconds left for the 64-57 final score.

With the loss, the Lady Titans — the second-ranked squad in the second weekly Associated Press Ohio High School girls basketball poll —fell for the first time in 15 tries this season.

It also ended their attempt for a remarkable three consecutive undefeated campaigns, which means Notre Dame won all 44 regular-season affairs over the past two years — before capturing the first 14 for this season.

Notre Dame’s only losses the last two years were in the Division IV regional semifinals —against Waterford two years back and to Peebles last March.

On Saturday, Notre Dame coach J.D. McKenzie did something he hasn’t done in three seasons — give a postgame media interview following a loss.

“We had a really good first half, but late in the second quarter, we rushed some shots, turned the ball over a couple of times, and they cut into an 18-point lead (32-18) to make it a 14-point lead (36-22). I still thought we had a great first half, and we talked about coming out in the second half and trying to extend that lead. We knew the third quarter would be huge, but we had a terrible third quarter and they had a great third quarter,” he said. “Uncharacteristically, we turned the ball over 20 times, we missed 22 threes, we took a lot of quick shots. They made us play fast, and they basically did to us in the second half what we did to them in the first half.”

For the game, in addition to the 20 turnovers, the Lady Titans — despite shooting 22-of-60 for 37-percent — took 30 threes and only made eight (27-percent).

They went 5-of-17 (29-percent) in the first half, followed by 3-of-13 (23-percent) in the second.

Spring Valley, by bringing full-court pressure, either turned the Titans over — or sped them up to where they were rushing so many shots.

It also impacted Notre Dame defensively, as in the fourth quarter the Timberwolves were going right at the rim —and the Titans simply couldn’t stop them.

All nine of the Timberwolves’ fourth-quarter field goals were inside the arc, including three from Asbury, who poured in nine buckets for 18 points —seven of which were in the second half.

Asbury also grabbed 11 rebounds, as it was her offensive board and assist to Jenna Christopher that lifted the Timberwolves back in front 54-52.

Spring Valley — which raised its record to 7-4 and is the equivalent of a Division I or large Division II school in Ohio — had just six second-half turnovers, and outrebounded the Lady Titans 19-12 over the same span.

Spring Valley, in the third quarter, sliced the deficit down to as far as one point three times — at 39-38, 41-40 and 46-45.

The Timberwolves bagged three threes in the third, including two by Sydney Meredith, who also netted two treys in the opening period.

Meredith paced Spring Valley with 19 points on six total field goals and 3-of-3 free throws, while Brea Saunders —whose second-quarter three-ball at the 1:30 mark to make it 36-22 and actually jump-started the Lady Timberwolves’ comeback —scored 11.

Asbury added eight points on four baskets in the tide-turning third frame, as her field goal just 15 seconds into the fourth made for a final one-point deficit at 48-47.

She then tied the game at 52-52 on an easy bucket with 5:12 remaining.

McKenzie said the Timberwolves were having their way with scoring in the second half.

“That’s the one, the defensive end, that hurts. We talked about eliminating this team’s easy buckets. We did that in the first half, made them work for everything. In the second half, they got some run-outs, they got some second-chance opportunities, we were late on some close-outs and assignments,” he said. “And truthfully, it looked like we got tired in the second half.”

McKenzie continued by explaining the fatigue factor, as Notre Dame —with the exception of its season-opening win over South Webster (46-44) and its Southern Ohio Conference Division I victory over New Boston (66-52) — has dominated its opposition to this point.

“Most of our starters through our first 14 games are probably averaging two-and-a-half quarters of play a night. That’s on me as a coach to get them in better shape in practice,” he said. “I didn’t do a very good job tonight either, but we have experienced girls out there playing for us. This should be an eye-opening experience for them not to play rushed and in a hurry and sloppy. The shots that we normally make weren’t falling and we turned the ball over way too much, we didn’t communicate well enough defensively and we got wore out.”

Detwiller did her part to pace the Lady Titans, amassing 19 points on eight field goals and 3-of-5 free throws.

The six-foot junior center was named Notre Dame’s Player of the Game, as she also ripped down a game-high 17 rebounds.

Hassel hit her 19 points on three twos and four treys, as her three trifectas for the first quarter spearheaded the Lady Titans’ 22-9 early advantage.

The Timberwolves led 9-6 at the three-minute mark —only to see the Lady Titans tear off for the final 16 points of the stanza.

Cassidy connected for three triples towards 11 points, as her third-quarter three made it 39-24 with seven minutes to play.

From there, though, Spring Valley vanquished its deficit by posting the next 14 points over the next four-and-a-half minutes.

The Timberwolves went ahead five-and-a-half minutes later, and outscored the Lady Titans 14-5 for the five-minute and 12-second finish.

McKenzie was upset about the loss, but cares more about his Lady Titans learning from their mistakes.

Moreover, Notre Dame doesn’t have any time to wallow about it either, as it returns to non-league action on Monday night by visiting Valley.

“I don’t care about being undefeated or what our record is. I hate losing more than I like winning, but the only thing I care about when we lose is that we better learn from it. I’m mad that we got beat, but I am going to be more mad if we don’t learn from this and if this doesn’t get their (Titans) attention and show them how much harder we have to work every day if we want to achieve our goals,” said McKenzie. “Hopefully, this is a good learning experience for us.”

* * *

Spring Valley 9 13 23 19 — 64

Notre Dame 22 14 12 9 —57


Jenna Christopher 3 1-4 7, Brea Saunders 4 1-2 11 Victoria Asbury 0 0-0 0, Holly Riggs 0 0-0 0, Halie Bailey 2 1-2 5 Sydney Meredith 6 3-3 19, Ella Edwards 2 0-0 4, Caroline Asbury 9 0-1 18; TOTALS 26 6-12 64; Three-point goals: 6 (Sydney Meredith 4, Brea Saunders 2)

NOTRE DAME 57 (14-1)

Taylor Schmidt 0 0-0 0, Ava Hassel 7 1-1 19, Cassie Schaefer 1 0-0 3, Olivia Smith 0 0-0 0, Annie Detwiller 0 1-3 1, Claire Detwiller 8 3-5 19, Isabel Cassidy 4 0-1 11, Lauren Campbell 2 0-1 4; TOTALS 22 5-11 57; Three-point goals: 8 (Ava Hassel 4, Isabel Cassidy 3, Cassie Schaefer 1)

Spring Valley (WV)


Notre Dame



Date League Season
January 18, 2020 SEO 2019-20



The Lady Bobcats never trail, win 48-25



Lady Bobcats buckle down, top Tigers

By Paul Boggs

FRANKLIN FURNACE —Simply put, Green got the memo, got its offense going, got defensive against the New Boston Lady Tigers, and ultimately got a big win.

That’s because the host Lady Bobcats — after scoring the opening dozen points — buckled down and turned back the Lady Tigers 48-35 on Thursday night in a girls basketball battle for second-place in the Southern Ohio Conference Division I.

Green indeed made the Lady Tigers see red, racing —or more like trotting —out to a 12-0 lead with only minute remaining in the opening quarter.

The Lady Bobcats never trailed, as Anna Knapp with three and Kasey Kimbler with two canned all five of Green’s three-point goals over the opening 19 minutes and 48 seconds — aiding the Lady Bobcats to a 29-20 advantage midway through the third period.

In the final canto, Green got field goals from Kame Sweeney (two) and Kimberly Brown (one), but the Lady Bobcats definitely enjoyed their parade to the free-throw line in the fourth —an 11-of-20 effort as they were in the one-and-one bonus situation at the 5:15 mark before reaching the double-bonus with a minute-and-a-half remaining.

The Lady Tigers, from the one-minute mark of the first quarter until the four-and-a-half minute mark of the fourth, trailed anywhere from three to 10 points —before Green gained a pair of 15-point advantages at 40-25 and finally 42-27.

With the victory, the Lady Bobcats pull even with the Lady Tigers for second-place in the SOC I —as both are now 9-2 and trail league-leader Notre Dame (11-0) by two full games.

Green — now 12-4 — gained a season split with New Boston, as the Lady Tigers took the initial matchup in December 70-50.

“Huge win for us,” said Green coach Melissa Knapp. “We beat a very good basketball team this evening. This gets us back tied for second (in the SOC I). This was a total team effort.”

Only seven Lady Bobcats played and five scored, but the Bobcats’ balance on offense was much more evident on Thursday — compared to most contests senior-less Green has played.

Usually, it’s Kasey Kimbler and/or Kame Sweeney scoring the lion’s share of the Lady Bobcats’ points, but Knapp’s daughter —standout freshman Anna Knapp —dialed up for a game-high 15 points on two deuces, three treys and 2-of-4 fourth-quarter free throws.

Green — or either team actually — got on the board finally with four minutes and 20 seconds to play in the first period, as Knapp nailed two consecutive three-pointers for an 8-0 advantage at the two-minute mark.

In the second stanza, the Lady Tigers trimmed the deficit to 17-14 and 19-16, but Knapp netted a two-pointer on a short jumper at the 2:20 juncture, then —just left of the key —connected for her third and final triple to make it 22-16 with 1:38 left before halftime.

From there, the Lady Bobcats led by at least six points the remainder of the way.

Coach Knapp said shooting from the perimeter, and conversely defending New Boston on the three-point arc, were two of the Lady Bobcats’ primary goals.

Both clubs finished with 14 made field goals, but Green hit five threes while the Tigers tallied none.

“We know the (Lexus and Sammy) Oiler sisters can shoot the basketball, so that was huge for us to hold them to no threes. And Anna (Knapp), we always talk about getting that third shooter or scorer to be consistent. That’s three threes for her two straight nights. We’ve been lacking that third scorer,” she said. “It’s been Kasey (Kimbler) and Kame (Sweeney), but if we can get that third scorer, maybe even a fourth scorer…”

Kimbler followed Knapp with 13 points on two twos and two threes, along with 3-of-6 second-half foul shots.

Her first trifecta from the wing made it 17-8, as her second —16 minutes and 20 seconds later —kept the distance at 29-20.

Sweeney and Kimberly Brown bagged eight points apiece, as Sweeney scored three baskets and 2-of-4 fourth-quarter foul shots — and Brown two buckets and 4-of-8 free throws.

Charli Blevins went 4-of-6 at the stripe in the fourth, including splitting the final free throws with 23 seconds left for the final score.

Those foul shots came courtesy of a technical foul on New Boston coach Kayla Wiley, who picked up her second technical and was subsequently ejected.

The Bobcats buried all 15 of their made free throws over the final three quarters, including 13-of-24 in the entire second half.

The Tigers trailed 31-25 only nine seconds into the fourth quarter, but Green ran off nine unanswered markers over the next three minutes and 20 seconds for its largest lead at 40-25.

They reached that margin with Kimbler converting a free throw following Wiley’s first technical.

As a result of falling behind, New Boston brought full-court pressure defense, but the Lady Bobcats beat it often times —and eventually the Lady Tigers had to foul.

Coach Knapp said cutting down the turnovers led to a confidence-booster for her group.

“The last game, we were in the driver’s seat most of the game until the fourth quarter. So I was having flashbacks. This time, the pressure didn’t bother us. I expected them to press, and we’ve worked and worked and worked against that press. Once our girls figured out that we weren’t going to turn the ball over, we played with confidence,” she said. “We didn’t come into this game scared. So many times when we had a big game early in the season, we were nervous. We were not nervous by any means at all tonight. We have kids who can break the press and take the ball to the rack and try to score.”

Lexus Oiler, amid two first-half fouls, amounted 15 points to pace the Lady Tigers — on five field goals and a perfect 5-of-5 free throws.

Sammy Oiler added seven points on three baskets and a split of fourth-quarter foul shots, while Kenzie Whitley scored six points, Shelby Easter four and Taylen Hickman three.

Of New Boston’s 70 points in the first meeting, Green gave up 31 of those in the fourth quarter.

This time, the Tigers — against the Bobcats’ man-to-man defense — turned the ball over too much and missed way too many shots.

Lexus Oiler’s field goal at the minute-mark and Whitley’s basket with 15 seconds left were New Boston’s only first-period points.

From there, the Lady Tigers played catch-up, and only got as close as three points twice (17-14 and 19-14) in the second quarter.

“Our defensive effort was much better. We played them zone the last time, we played them triangle-and-two and box-and-one. I didn’t feel our man-to-man was where it needed to be. In this game, we played straight up man-to-man,” said Coach Knapp. “That’s my thoughts pretty much every game we play now. I don’t have to sit and worry about what junk defense we’re going to play to stop their best player. I’ve got kids that are sitting down and playing defense. That was obviously the main difference. We gave up 31 points in the fourth quarter the last time we played them.”

On Thursday, all the Lady Tigers totaled was 35.

New Boston — now 12-6 — returns home, and returns to non-league action, on Saturday against Valley.

Green, meanwhile, goes out of conference — and across the bridge into Kentucky — to face Raceland on Tuesday night.

Knapp said it is important for her Lady Bobcats to build off arguably their best victory of the season so far.

She hopes they get the memo on that as well.

“Anything can happen on any given night. So we have to savor this victory tonight and it’s back to the drawing board tomorrow. There are still more games to be played,” said the coach. “Just assuming we’re going to finish in second (in the SOC I), that’s NOT how this works.”

* * *

New Boston 4 12 8 11 — 35

Green 12 12 7 17— 48

NEW BOSTON 35 (12-6, 9-2 SOC I)

Lexus Oiler 5 5-5 15, Shelby Easter 2 0-1 4, Kenzie Whitley 3 0-0 6, Taylen Hickman 1 1-4 3, Sammy Oiler 3 1-2 7, Adrianne Shultz 0 0-0 0, Cadence Williams 0 0-0 0, Dylan O’Rourke 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 14 7-12 35; Three-point goals: none

GREEN 48 (12-4, 9-2 SOC II)

Anna Knapp 5 2-4 15, Kasey Kimbler 4 3-6 13, Kimberly Brown 2 4-8 8, Kame Sweeney 3 2-4 8, Charli Blevins 0 4-6 4, Kaylee Christian 0 0-0 0, Brelan Baldridge 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 14 15-28; Three-point goals: 5 (Anna Knapp 3, Kasey Kimbler 2)






Date League Season
January 16, 2020 SEO 2019-20



Lady Oaks win over Minford in SOC II


Oak Hill49Win

Lady Oaks win over Minford in SOC II

By Paul Boggs


OAK HILL — Minford girls basketball coach Shane Davis had almost the exact same postgame media conversation as a week ago.

Once again, his Lady Falcons were right there on the cusp of a Southern Ohio Conference Division II victory —trailing most of the way before rallying back in the final quarter, but unfortunately not executing in the clutch and coming up just short.

On Monday night, at Oak Hill High School, the Lady Falcons rallied back from an 11-point deficit to the host Lady Oaks —only to lose to Oak Hill 49-46 thanks to turnovers, missed shots and ultimately missed free throws.

The Lady Falcons forged five-point leads of 5-0 and 7-2 in the opening three minutes and 38 seconds, but trailed — or at best tied — for the game’s final 25-and-a-half minutes.

Minford’s definite downfall was its third quarter, in which it scored just four points —and as a result fell behind by 11 points (41-30) for the final 67 seconds.

In the fourth frame, Minford made its comeback by doubling up the Lady Oaks 16-8, including a 12-2 run to open the quarter — and trail 43-42 with just 3:36 to play.

But the Lady Falcons missed five free throws in the fourth and seven for the second half, as one miss would have tied the tilt — while three others would have reduced the deficit to one.

Instead, and speaking of free throws, Oak Hill senior standout Caitlyn Brisker bagged 4-of-6 foul shots in the final minute and nine seconds — with all four coming consecutive to make it a 48-44 Lady Oaks’ lead with just 21 tics to play.

The loss dropped the Lady Falcons to 6-8 and 4-5 in the SOC II, as Davis discussed another frustrating defeat afterwards —similar to what he did after last Monday’s 45-38 home loss against Northwest.

In that affair, Minford made a comeback all the way to a one-point deficit, but — like at Oak Hill — could never gain the lead late.

The Lady Oaks — now 8-6 and 6-4 in the division —completed the season sweep of the Lady Falcons, after winning the first matchup between the two teams in Minford on Dec. 2.

“We had this conversation a week ago. We battled, we’re right there. But we didn’t execute again in the same situations like last week with Northwest,” said Davis. “We missed some shots, we had some turnovers at the wrong times, and missed foul shots that obviously made a difference. If we could have gotten the lead, I think we would have won. The girls give great effort, and I never question that. I mean we are right there. Just have to execute better.”

That included on the final possession, when Brisker made the first free throw but missed the second of a one-and-one situation — and Hannah Tolle grabbed the rebound for the Lady Falcons.

But Minford never got a shot off, as a pass from half-court into the front-court sailed out of bounds as time ran out.

The statistics were indeed close, as Minford shot 36-percent on 13-of-36 while Oak Hill hit for 40-percent on 17-of-43.

Both clubs also recorded 30 rebounds, as the Lady Falcons committed 15 turnovers compared to 14 for the Lady Oaks.

However, free throws were a major issue for Minford —despite making (18) more than the Lady Oaks even attempted (15).

The Lady Falcons tried 27, while Oak Hill made good on 11 —including 4-of-4 in the first half towards a 29-26 halftime advantage.

Brisker, with her game-high 20 points that included six field goals, bucketed 8-of-10 charity tosses —including 6-of-8 in the second half.

None, of course, were bigger than her four straight fourth-quarter makes which made it 48-44.

With Oak Hill leading 45-43, she split a pair of a two-shot situation, then made both of the one-and-one bonus with 21 seconds left —after the Lady Falcons fouled three consecutive times to put the Lady Oaks at the line.

After Minford’s Maddie Slusher sank two freebies with nine seconds left, Brisker split another pair just three seconds later for the 49-46 lead.

“We got to the foul line late in the fourth quarter and made our foul shots this time, which we didn’t at Northwest,” said Oak Hill head coach Doug Hale.

Hale, who has over 500 career coaching victories, captured his 500th all-time win almost a year to the day a year ago — by defeating the visiting Lady Falcons on Jan. 17, 2019.

But Monday night’s triumph was important for the Jackson Countians, which bounced back from a 36-30 loss at Northwest on Thursday (Jan. 9) — that basically ended their hopes of chasing down league-leader Wheelersburg in the SOC II championship race.

“A big win for the Lady Oaks tonight,” said Hale. “Against Northwest, I thought our effort and our defensive attitude was good, but we just couldn’t make shots. We battled with a really good Minford team tonight, and we knew coming in that it was going to be a battle. I was proud of them that we had the lead in the fourth quarter, Minford took a big punch at us and we held them off, then we punched back at the end.”

The Lady Falcons had to fire back in the fourth —thanks to their third quarter which produced only four points by Tolle on a basket at the 5:25 mark and two free throws just three minutes and five seconds later.

Minford endured two scoring droughts in the canto of at least two minutes and 35 seconds.

Meanwhile, Oak Hill scored the opening seven points of the period — on a Chloe Chambers rebound putback, an Olivia Clarkson corner-pocket three-pointer, and two Brisker free throws.

“The third quarter killed us again,” said Davis. “That was the difference.”

But the fourth quarter featured a Lady Falcons’ rally, as Tolle tallied three straight field goals and Livi Shonkwiler scored five points — including a steal and layup and 3-of-5 foul shots to get within 43-42.

Brisker’s basket immediately answered just 21 seconds later, as Tolle twice split a pair of free throws for 45-43 (2:13 left) and 46-44 (52 seconds left) deficits.

Tolle paced the Lady Falcons with 15 points on five field goals and 5-of-8 free throws, as she scored a dozen in the second half.

Shonkwiler followed closely with 13 points —on four baskets and 5-of-7 foul shots —while Slusher and Makayla Watters added eight points apiece.

Slusher swished two first-half three-pointers for Minford’s only triples, while Watters went 4-of-4 at the stripe along with two buckets in the first half.

Makayla Watters was 2-of-4 at the line.

Slusher’s first three gave the Lady Falcons an early 5-0 advantage just two minutes and five seconds in, as her second trifecta got the guests within three (29-26) at halftime.

In between, the Lady Oaks outscored Minford 29-18, as Brisker scored eight first-quarter points —including a long pull-up two-pointer that capped an 11-4 run to give Oak Hill the lead with a minute-and-a-half left.

The Lady Oaks’ role players backed Brisker up, and that included with Peyton Miller out injured with a broken nose.

In the first half, Brooke Howard had an old-fashioned three-point play and three-point goal, Baylee Howell hit two treys, and six-foot center Chloe Chambers combined for 10 points — in the middle two quarters —on four field goals and 2-of-3 free throws.

There were three ties at 9-9, 11-11 and 14-14, as Brisker’s only points in the second stanza — a field goal only a minute and three seconds in —gave the Lady Oaks the lead for good.

“When they guarded Caitlyn (Brisker) the way they did, we handled that and other players stepped up. Brooke Howard did, Baylee Howell hit a couple of threes, Chloe (Chambers) made some shots around the bucket, and Liv (Olivia Clarkson) battled in there and got a few shots,” said Hale.

Oak Hill held leads ranging from two-to-six points in the second quarter, before extending the advantage to 41-30 following the third.

Minford made its comeback in the fourth, but the end result only led to Davis’ discussion afterwards —which was basically a duplicate from last Monday.

“Same conversation. We’re right there. There were some girls crying in the locker-room. They really wanted to win this game and believed we would win this game,” he said. “It’s frustrating, but we’re very close to getting over the hump.”

* * *

Minford 12 14 4 16 — 46

Oak Hill 14 15 12 8— 49

MINFORD 46 (6-8, 4-5 SOC II)

Ally Coriell 0 0-0 0, Makayla Watters o 2-4 2, Makenzie Watters 2 4-4 8, Livi Shonkwiler 4 5-7 13, Maddie Slusher 2 2-4 8, Hannah Tolle 5 5-8 15, Micah Thacker 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 13 18-27 46 ; Three-point goals: 2 (Maddie Slusher 2)

OAK HILL 49 (8-6, 6-4 SOC II)

Baylee Howell 2 0-0 6,Chloe Chambers 4 2-3 10, Caitlyn Brisker 6 8-10 20, Baylee Howard 0 0-0 0, Brooke Howard 3 1-2 8, Olivia Clarkson 2 0-0 5; TOTALS 17 11-15 49; Three-point goals: 4 (Baylee Howell 2, Brooke Howard and Olivia Clarkson 1 apiece)

Oak Hill





Date League Season
January 13, 2020 SEO 2019-20


Oak Hill