NEW LEXINGTON — Madison Whittaker became the latest Lady Pirate to hit a dramatic Wheelersburg winner.
That’s because Whittaker, with a three-point goal from the left wing, won Saturday’s season-opener for the Lady Pirates —a 44-41 outcome over Worthington Christian as part of the annual New Lexington Girls Basketball Tipoff Showcase.
Whittaker, with a team-high 11 points, made three three-point goals —including one to beat the opening-quarter buzzer, and get the Lady Pirates to within 10-7.
Her second three tied it at 12-12 with a minute and 50 seconds remaining in the first half, but no shot was larger of course than her three-ball for the win.
The final sequence started when Kiera Kennard stole a pass, and was fouled with 15 seconds remaining.
Annie Coriell’s open look for a three rimmed off, but Macee Eaton got her team-high sixth and final rebound —and kicked the ball back out to Whittaker.
Whittaker spotted up and hit the winner, and kept the Lady Pirates’ regular-season win streak intact.
Wheelersburg was undefeated in 21 regular-season games last year, losing only once —in the Division III regional semifinals.
Those Lady Pirates finished a stellar 24-1, as leading scorer and all-Ohioan Alaina Keeney graduated —as she too has a memorable buzzer-beater, a running basket to top North Adams in the district semis.
Four years ago, in the Division III regional semifinals, Lani Irwin made such a three-pointer to lift the Lady Pirates past Morgan.
But back to the here and now, it was Whittaker with the shot on Saturday —as her only tw0-point basket was a running jumper with four minutes remaining.
Makenna Walker, with three field goals and 4-of-4 free throws, wound up with 10 points —as Lexie Rucker, with four field goals and a split of fourth-quarter free throws, netted nine.
Eaton added eight —all in the third quarter and including the team’s other two treys.
Coriell scored two third-frame baskets for four points, while Kennard made a fourth-quarter field goal —getting the Lady Pirates to within 40-38, before Rucker’s last bucket tied it (40-40).
Rucker’s split of free throws then gave the Lady Pirates the lead with 49 seconds showing — before the Lady Warriors’ Meghan Mayotte split a one-and-one with 25 seconds left.
For Mayotte, she poured in a game-high 27 points on 10 field goals and 7-of-8 free throws —but the remaining Lady Warriors combined to go 0-of-4 at the line.
Wheelersburg outrebounded the Lady Warriors 35-24, despite six from Mayotte and five steals.
Both teams shot 17-of-45 from the field for 38-percent, but while Wheelersburg was 5-of-24 from three-point territory, Worthington Christian canned none of its 15.
Both clubs shot 57-percent from inside the arc, with Wheelersburg going 12-of-21.
The Lady Warriors did lead 10-2, but a 13-2 Lady Pirate surge pushed them in front with a minute to go in the first half.
As part of a see-saw affair, which saw the Lady Pirates trail again 24-20 but lead again 36-32, Walker made two old-fashioned three-point plays.
Still, it was Whittaker with the winner in the opener.
Wheelersburg’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener at Waverly on Monday night was postponed.
The Lady Pirates are now scheduled to play again next Monday (Nov. 28) —when they host South Webster in the SOC II.
* * *
Wheelersburg 7 8 12 17—44
Worthington Christian 10 4 14 13— 41
WHEELERSBURG 44 (1-0)
Mia Vastine 0 0-0 0, Madison Whitaker 4 0-0 11, Annie Coriell 2 0-0 4, Kiera Kennard 1 0-0 2, Jocelyn Tilley 0 0-0 0, Emma Smith 0 0-0 0, Jaylinn Prather 0 0-0 0, Makenna Walker 3 4-4 10, Lexie Rucker 4 1-2 9, Macee Eaton 3 0-0 8; TOTALS 17 5-6 44; Three-point field goals: 5 (Madison Whittaker 3, Macee Eaton 2)
WORTHINGTON CHRISTIAN 41 (0-1)
Faith King 2 0-0 4, Courtney Staggs 0 0-1 0, Jamie Custer 3 0-2 6, Natalie Woodtin 0 0-0 0, Amanda Custer 1 0-1 2, Brooke Winfree 1 0-0 2, Meghan Mayotte 10 7-8 27 ; TOTALS 17 7-12 41; Three-point field goals: none
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