Lady Jeeps rally, stun Rock Hill


SOUTH WEBSTER — Truth be told, South Webster was quite a bit banged up on Saturday on the court —and against eight-win Rock Hill, on paper perhaps a tad bit overmatched.

But, complete credit goes out to these new-look Lady Jeeps —for rallying against the visiting and non-league Redwomen, and capturing an important tournament-building triumph.

That’s because the host Lady Jeeps, for the second Saturday setup within two weeks for an afternoon girls basketball game, shook off some doldrums en route to a quality win —this time erasing a 27-20 halftime deficit, ultimately defeating the Redwomen 52-46.

South Webster, which was 4-4 entering the contest but bench-shortened with two out-injured reserves and even two key starters battling nagging injuries, won despite being outsized —and even out-experienced.

Thrice the Lady Jeeps trailed in the opening half by eight points, including on Rock Hill’s Hadyn Bailey bagging a three-point goal only two minutes and 20 seconds into the second stanza —which made it 18-10.

Hazley Matthews, the Redwomen’s other top performer besides Bailey, made a pair of free throws for a 27-19 advantage —and only 27 seconds left in the first half.

However, the second half basically belonged to the Lady Jeeps, which reversed course —and outscored the Redwomen 18-12 in the fourth frame, following doubling up Rock Hill 14-7 in the third.

Matthews made a free throw with four minutes and 19 seconds remaining for the Redwomen’s last lead at 44-42, but their only other points —four minutes later —were Bailey’s two of three following being fouled on a three-point attempt.

By then, South Webster was enjoying its largest lead —at 51-44 and inside the final minute.

That’s correct, the Lady Jeeps joyrided for a 10-2 run to end the game —and handed Rock Hill only its second loss in 10 tilts.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, the Lady Jeeps won over undefeated at the time Meigs Eastern 59-53 —another signature non-league home win on a Saturday varsity-only affair.

But South Webster, easily arguably, was facing more adversity against the Redwomen — given the matchup and the Lady Jeeps’ health situation.

Speaking of health, SWHS coach Ryan Dutiel likely experienced nervousness and anxiety all throughout the game — but the outcome left his heart fluttering following.

“This is a huge win for us to beat a team of that caliber. They are so talented and well-coached and naturally gifted. But our kids came out, they stay focused the whole game, and we just kept stressing to be the help to your teammate. Help her out when she needs help,” said Dutiel. “Double down if somebody gets in the post, always be helping defensively, and take away their driving lanes. Our kids just worked so hard today. We have a couple banged up and didn’t play, then Bella (Claxon) and Skylar (Zimmerman) didn’t practice the last two days after the Jackson game (39-33 loss on Wednesday). Bella’s shoulder is banged up and Sky’s knees are bothering her. Those two just push through pain better than any two kids I think I’ve ever seen. They are so driven and are tremendous athletes. They really came through in the end for us there.”

For Lady Jeep juniors Skylar Zimmerman and Bella Claxon, indeed they did come through down the stretch.

Zimmerman, following five first-half points, poured in a game-high 21 —on five twos, her buzzer-beating three-ball which tied the game for the second time at 34-34 at the end of the third quarter, and 8-of-12 free throws.

After splitting freebie pairs for the middle two cantos, Zimmerman made 6-of-8 from the charity stripe in the last.

She started the final period by making a steal and layup only seven seconds in for the Lady Jeeps’ first lead (36-34), scored again only 47 seconds in to make it 40-34, then swished two foul shots for the 46-44 advantage with 2:46 remaining.

She then converted 3-of-4 over a 20-second span, making it 51-44 at the one-minute mark — and capping a run of nine unanswered points.

After Bailey bucketed her two of three, for a 51-46 deficit and 21 seconds to play, Zimmerman iced the win with another foul shot split —this one with nine-and-a-half seconds left.

Zimmerman made 6-of-14 from the field, including 5-of-10 from inside the arc, and also dished out a team-high four assists.

She and Claxon collected three steals apiece, but Claxon —playing amid a bum shoulder and picking up three fouls in the first dozen minutes —chipped in 11 big second-half points on three field goals and 5-of-8 free throws, and corralled a team-high 13 rebounds for an impressive double-double.

Her two fourth-quarter baskets were major makes —similar mid-range jumpers just outside the lane, and from each side of the floor.

Claxon’s connections made it 44-44 for the fourth and final tie, and for the 48-44 edge at the two-minute mark.

Bella’s younger sister, Addi Claxon, canned two long-range shots off the wing —in the second quarter for an 18-13 deficit at the five-and-a-half minute juncture, then later for the first tie at 31-31.

But, truthfully, the Lady Jeeps had to win a rockfight versus Rock Hill.

Given Rock Hill’s height, South Webster —with Bella Claxon’s six defensive boards and Kennedy Murphy grabbing six rebounds in addition to her two first-half field goals — wanted to limit the Redwomen to one-shot possessions, and keep them off the glass.

Mission accomplished.

With the Redwomen attempting threes, there were plenty of opportunities at long rebounds —which the Lady Jeeps tracked down.

“Our focus was to limit them to one shot and keep them off the boards. That was a big concern of ours, when I saw their size,” said Dutiel. “I think our quickness helped us to get to some of those long rebounds, but it was all just tied together to limiting their offensive chances. Then the second half today, shots start falling for us. That fits all right in with our gameplan. Just constant pressure, making sure we don’t give up any easy ones and keep people off the boards. If we do those things, and make free throws down the stretch like we today, we give ourselves a chance to win.”

Kerith Wright added eight points and four rebounds for South Webster, including a key trifecta for a 15-10 deficit with five seconds left in the opening salvo.

Later on, midway through the third to be exact, her rebound putback of her own missed triple made it 30-27 —as South Webster went on to outscore Rock Hill 25-16 over the final dozen minutes.

Cailee Blevins, the second Lady Jeep off the bench on Saturday of the eight which played, bucketed a second-quarter field goal off an inbounds pass.

As expected, Matthews (committed to Georgetown College) with 14 and Bailey (committed to University of Rio Grande) with 12 paced the Redwomen, as both made two treys and four free throws apiece.

The loss left the Redwomen —arguably the second-best team in the Ohio Valley Conference behind league leader Fairland —at 8-2.

In ways, including eight-point leads three times in the first half evaporating, it was a stunning loss for Rock Hill —but a great win for the underdog Lady Jeeps.

“Wins like this for us, we hope that when it gets tournament time, people will not want to play us, even if we are in Division III this year. Teams will know that we are right in their face for 32 minutes. Hopefully, we continue to do the things to put us in position to win at the end of the game,” said Dutiel. “We’ll just go with it from there. These girls are really starting to believe in themselves. So proud of the girls and their effort and playing so unselfish for each other.”

* * *

Rock Hill 15 12 7 12 — 46

South Webster 10 10 14 18 —52

ROCK HILL 46 (8-2)

Haydn Bailey 3 4-5 12, Hope Easterling 3 0-0 6, Hazley Matthews 4 4-6 14, Lola Hankins 1 0-2 3, Haleigh Risner 1 0-0 2, Josie Kidd 0 2-2 2, Jlynn Risner 3 1-3 7; TOTALS 15 11-18 46; Three-point field goals: 5 (Haydn Bailey and Hazley Matthews 2 apiece, Lola Hankins 1)


Cailee Blevins 1 0-2 2, Addi Claxon 2 0-0 6, Mia Crum 0 0-0 0, Bella Claxon 3 5-8 11, Kerith Wright 3 1-5 8, Skylar Zimmerman 6 8-12 21, Riley Raynard 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Murphy 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 17 14-27 52; Three-point field goals: 4 (Addi Claxon 2, Kerith Wright and Skylar Zimmerman 1 apiece)

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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