By BOB STRICKLEY
PDT Sports Editor
LUCASVILLE – The start of Wheelersburg’s Division III Sectional Semifinal against Paint Valley was not a pretty one, but timely 3-point shooting and second half freethrows propelled the No. 10 Lady Pirates past the No. 7 Lady Bearcats 48-31 Monday evening at Valley High School.
Wheelersburg senior Erica Schmidt had 20 points, five of which came on fourth quarter free throws to help the Lady Pirates pull away.
The first and second quarters ended in ties but Wheelersburg came out of the locker room and went on a 8-2 run, shutting out Paint Valley until the 5:15 mark of the third quarter.
“We had a little case of nerves to start with and I think we were a little out of sorts,” Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said. “When shots don’t fall early you start pressing.You have to play through those periods, keep guarding and you can at least maintain the ballgame until you pull out of it.”
Two quick 3-pointers from Schmidt and three steals helped fuel the Lady Pirates to a 33-24 lead entering the fourth quarter. The ‘Burg defense held the Lady Bearcats to just two field goals on 15 attempts in the third quarter.
“We didn’t play well offensively in the first half but we guarded well and I think we guarded even better in the second half,” Spradlin said.
Free throws were an issue for Spradlin’s squad through the first three quarters of play as the Lady Pirates missed their first seven attempts. They eventually broke out of their funk with 4:09 remaining in the game.
However, ‘Burg did rally to make nine of their 14 fourth quarter attempts raising their game clip to 50 percent.
With the margin standing at nine points with 1:38 to play, Brooklyn Yeley (eight points and an assist) assisted Loran Spradlin (three points, five rebounds and a steal) off a perfectly-executed inbounds. A foul during the shot and Spradlin’s subsequent free throw essentially sealed the game for the Lady Pirates.
“Give Paint Valley credit because they provided some length in that zone and have some good athletes,” coach Spradlin said.
Wheelersburg had 10 players work their way into at least one statistical category in the win. Coach Spradlin spoke about the faith his players have in each other.
“We do feel more comfortable throwing more people in,” Spradilin said. “One of the things we said before we left Wheelersburg was to trust each other, trust that your teammate is going to be in the right spot and do what they are supposed to do.”
The Lady Pirates finished with 12 turnovers while Paint Valley committed 14.
Schmidt finished with a game-leading 20 points and three rebounds while teammate Fay Proehl was very active for Wheelersburg as the game’s second-leading scorer with 10 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
Amber Lewis and Kaylie Armstrong of split the Lady Bearcat scoring lead with nine points apiece.
The Lady Pirates shot 46 percent from the floor while Paint Valley shot 32 percent.
Wheelersburg improves to 14-7 overall and will play No. 2 North Adams Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Valley.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or email@example.com.
Paint Valley 8 11 5 7 —31
Wheelersburg 8 11 14 15 —48
Paint Valley — Litter 2-0-4, Stanforth 4-0-8, Lewis 4-1-9, Stout 0-1-1, Armstrong 4-0-9, Totals 14-2-31
Wheelersburg — Proehl 4-2-10, Yeley 3-0-8, Spradlin 1-1-3, Schmidt 6-5-20, Adams 3-0-6, Willis 0-1-1, Totals 17-9-48
3-point shooting: Paint Valley 1 (Armstrong 1), Wheelersburg 5 (Yeley 2, Schmidt 3)