MINFORD – The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates picked up an SOC win over the Minford Lady Falcons 62-53, Thursday evening. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the game before Wheelersburg went on a late game run to regain the lead and eventually win the game.
The Lady Pirates had three players score in double figures, including game leader Sydney Holden, who finished the evening with 23 points. Abbie Kallner had 12 points for the Lady Pirates, nine of which came by way of three pointers. Additionally, Ellie Ruby scored 11 against Minford.
In the loss, Minford was successful with sharing offensive production. Coach Scott Caudill had three players scoring in the teens. Erin Daniels led the Lady Falcons with 16 points, while freshman Ashley Blankenship put up 14 points, and fellow teammate Emma Shepherd finished just behind with 13 points in the game.
In the early parts of the game, Minford seemed to have total control of the ballgame. Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said he told his team they, figuratively, took a pretty good punch in the mouth.
“I thought Minford played well early,” Spradlin said. “They had momentum going, and made some shots. I thought we were a little sluggish, but we came out and the second half was a little bit of a different story.”
The more Wheelersburg tried to take control of the game, Minford kept firing back. It wasn’t until the last quarter and a half that the Lady Pirates were able to create more than a single possession’s worth of separation from the Lady Falcons.
“I felt like we tried to get a little bit of a lead, when we got it to three, but then someone would hit a big shot,” Spradlin said. “They played really well.”
Minford’s defense caused trouble for the inside game of Wheelersburg. In the first quarter, Wheelersburg continuously had problems setting up an inside game, and were forced to take well guarded shots.
Even with the stiff defensive play inside, Minford only had a two point lead at the end of the first quarter, 14-12.
The last two minutes of the first quarter and the first few of the second belonged to Minford’s Blankenship. Ashley had two big blocks late in the first, preventing Wheelersburg from tying the game. Then, as the second quarter began, Blankenship got two quick scores for the Lady Falcons giving Minford a slim lead and plenty of momentum.
Wheelersburg’s Kallner was a momentum killer all night long, as she seemed to be perfect when the Lady Pirates needed it most. Kallner hit two big three point shots in the second quarter, stifling Falcon runs.
With about 4:20 remaining in the half, Kallner hit one of those threes to pull Wheelersburg withing one of Minford.
Blankenship and Kallner both had great second quarters, albeit for opposing sides.
Minford hit a quick run to go up by nine points with just over two minutes remaining in the half, however Kallner would help kill that momentum just before the half.
Shortly after a timeout, Kallener hit her second big three pointer in the quarter, followed right after by a Ruby score, cutting Minford’s lead to just three points as the half ended.
The third quarter was a battle by every definition of the term. Both teams turned up their aggression and intensity. Minford would manage to pull together another short run to go up by seven points several minutes into the third quarter.
That lead would be cut to a possible single possession, as Wheelersburg pulled within three with just over two minutes left in the third quarter.
Blankenship would suffer from her increased aggressive play, as she picked up her fourth foul with a lot of game left to be played.
Ruby got a great steal and then was fouled during her shot, which went in. Although she missed her free throw, Wheelersburg was able to come away with the rebound and then hit a three to take a two point lead over Minford 41-39 with about a minute left in the quarter.
Minford would regain the lead just before the end of the quarter after a three pointer.
Wheelersburg took the lead back after scoring off a free throw and two point field goal, but would then lose it after Shepherd hits a three-pointer to tie the game with just under six minutes remaining.
The lead changed yet again, after ‘Burg took back over, but as was the case with most leads in the secon half of this game, it was short lived.
Daniels, taking advantage of a fast break ties the game at 49-49 with 3:30 remaining.
It was then ‘Burg was finally able to get some separation from Minford. The Lady Pirates went on a seven point run, giving them their largest lead of the game at that point, 56-49.
Minford refused to die though, as Daniels hit a huge three pointer to cut the lead to four, with only 36 seconds left in the game.
Forced to foul, Minford simply couldn’t put up a string of scores to tie the game or potentially take the lead. Wheelersburg hit key free throws to increase its lead, eventually to the game’s final score of 62-53.
“Wheelersburg is a very good basketball team,” Caudill said. “That’s a fantastic basketball team with a lot of great athletes on it. I couldn’t be any prouder of every single one of our girls. They played their heart out.”
Caudill said you have to play your best basketball if you want to have a chance to beat Wheelersburg.
“We wanted to give ourselves a chance to win at the end of the game, and we gave ourselves that chance,” Caudill said. “It just came down to a couple turnovers at the end of the game and who made baskets at the end of the game.”
Both coaches said their teams will need to get better as the year goes on.
Minford will travel to West Portsmouth to battle West on Monday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Wheelersburg will next take the court Saturday evening as they travel to Beverly, Ohio to take on Fort Frye.
Minford – Daniels 6-2-16, Blankenship 5-4-14, Shepherd 6-0-13, Risner 3-0-8, Grasso 0-2-2
Wheelersburg – Holden 7-8-23, Kallner 4-1-12, Ruby 5-1-11, Salyers 3-1-7, Akers 2-3-7, Coleman 0-1-1, Swim 0-1-1
3-point field goals – Minford 5 (Daniels 2, Risner 2, Shepherd) Wheelersburg 4 (Kallner 3, Holden)