While the Falcons were playing for a share of second-place in the SOC II, the Senators needed the win to keep their hopes for a .500 season alive — and they got it.
A 24-15 first half gave the Senators the momentum and big plays late led to a 39-36 West victory, its fourth in a row.
“We’re going uphill,” West junior Taylor Newman said. “It means a lot to the school because we used to have a not so good program. We’re getting better and we’re very proud of it.”
Newman scored a game-high 18 points with 13 rebounds with her biggest bucket coming at a crucial moment.
West led Minford 35-31 with less than one minute to play when McKenzie Irwin found Newman on an inbound pass. Newman made the catch and put in a layup.
The score put the Senators ahead by five with 27 seconds to play and elicited smiles from every player in an orange and black uniform.
“I was excited and joyful and I just knew then that it was our game,” Newman said.
On the scoreboard, it was West’s game all along.
Newman scored the game’s first four points and West never trailed. Newman and Tori Leader combined for all 12 of the Senators’ first-quarter points. Leader scored six points in the contest with nine rebounds. Becca Mosley scored seven points with eight rebounds.
The win was West’s fourth this season in the SOC II after going winless in the league last season. For that matter, West was just 2-19 last season while this season’s squad is 8-10.
“We’ve worked hard the last two years,” West coach Greg Maynard said. “We knew last year was going to be rough and knew this year was going to be rough but we’ve turned it around.”
The Lady Falcons looked like they might turn things around the second half. Led by Emma Shoemaker, Minford cut the lead to just one point, 30-29, after a 14-6 run from the end of the third to the beginning of the fourth quarter.
When things got close however, West turned to a slow-down offense and matched Minford point-for-point in the final period.
“You have to give all the credit to them,” Minford coach Mark Chaney said. “They came in to play and we didn’t. That’s probably the worst game I saw us play all year. Defensively we couldn’t rotate...We did a lot of things we haven’t done since the first game of the season.”
Shoemaker led Minford with 13 points while Courtney Spriggs scored 10 points with five rebounds. Kendra Justice scored seven points in the loss.
The slow pace West set for the game was a direct result of the teams’ earlier meeting this season that Minford won 50-39.
“We’ve run all year long,” Maynard said. “That’s what I’ve based this team on is running the ball up the court... When we played them the first time I thought we were outmatched as far as speed. Going into this contest I thought if we could take the air out of the ball and slow it down and use our height I thought we had a good shot at getting them.”
West also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Minford 38-15.
Despite the loss, the Lady Falcons end their 2010 regular season with a winning record at 11-9, good for a third-place tie with Valley in the SOC II. Minford will open tournament play Feb. 20 against Trimble at Wellston.
West faces Rock Hill on Saturday and finishes the season Monday at Wheelersburg.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org
West 12 12 6 9 — 39
Minford 8 7 12 9 — 36
West — Mosley 3 1 7, Irwin 1 0 2, Graf 1 2 4, Welch 0 2 2, Newman 9 0 18, Leader 3 0 6. Totals 17 5 39.
Minford — Spriggs 4 1 10, Donahoe 1 0 2, Justice 2 1 7, Shoemaker 6 1 13, Shepherd 2 0 4. Totals 15 3 36.
3-pointers — West none; Minford 3 (Justice 2, Spriggs)
Records — West 8-10 (4-9); Minford 11-9 (9-5)