WAVERLY — Simply put, for the South Webster Lady Jeeps, momma warned us about days like these.
That’s because the Lady Jeeps just never got anything offensively going on Monday night, while Waverly senior standout Bailey Vulgamore made the most in one of her final home games as a Lady Tiger.
The Lady Jeeps committed 19 total turnovers, struggled shooting against the Lady Tigers’ 2-3 but mixed-and-matched zone, and Vulgamore scored 19 of her game-high 24 points in the opening half —all en route to Waverly’s 54-39 win inside the Tigers’ Den in a mid-pack Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt.
The Lady Jeeps just went 7-of-27 (26-percent) from inside the three-point arc, including only 1-of-10 in the first two quarters to fall behind 32-18 at halftime.
Of their 19 turnovers, a dozen occurred in the first 16 minutes —as the Lady Tigers’ height and length bothered South Webster, which scored all 18 first-half points via way of five three-point goals and a Bella Claxon three-point play.
In the second half, the Lady Jeeps’ only three-pointer was a winged one from freshman Addi Claxon —and it occurred only a minute and 14 seconds into the third canto.
A trio of Skylar Zimmerman twos got South Webster within 33-27 at the 3:13 mark of the third, but the Lady Jeeps got no closer —trailing by eight or more the remainder of the way, including by double digits for the final nine minutes and 13 seconds.
With the five-foot and 10-inch Vulgamore doing her damage in the first half, fellow senior and 5-9 Kelli Stewart did hers in the second —scoring 10 of her 14 points after halftime, and aiding in the Lady Tigers building a pair of 17-point (52-35 and 54-37) cushions.
No, to be honest, this wasn’t what SWHS head coach Ryan Dutiel envisioned on Monday night —as the Lady Jeeps end up splitting the season series with Waverly.
Six weeks ago, on Dec. 5 to be exact, South Webster won the initial meeting between the pair by a count of 61-57.
Dutiel did admit the Tigers’ zone was the Lady Jeeps’ kryptonite.
“Their zone, early on, was very active, and we just weren’t executing our offense to find those shots,” said the coach. “They caused us problems with their length, and then the cutters would be there, then they would be gone. Just no execution, and a few people just didn’t step when they had their chance.”
Waverly coach John Bonifield concurred about his Lady Tigers’ activity on defense.
In turn, after a slow-revving 8-6 opening salvo, the now 9-5 Tigers went off for doubling up the Lady Jeeps 24-12 in the second —spearheaded by Vulgamore’s 13 in the period.
“We wanted to contest all shots. I thought, for the most part in the first half, we did a really good job of contesting shots,” he said. “We wanted to make them shoot over the top of us, limit them to one shot per possession, and then try to get out in transition and get some easy baskets. We were able to click in the second quarter doing that, and that allowed us to change up our (zone) defenses from a 2-3 to a 3-2 to a 1-3-1. Our main thing was to be active and keep an eye on Zimmerman, because we know she can score. She still scored her points, but we thought we made her work for everything she got tonight.”
For the first half, Zimmerman with three threes and Kerith Wright with a second-stanza pair kept South Webster within striking distance, but no Lady Jeep was a good match for Vulgamore —who knocked down three first-half threes, and meshed a perfect 4-of-4 first-half free throws.
Vulgamore’s 24 markers featured four deuces, three treys and 7-of-8 foul shots, as she surpassed the 1,000-point plateau on Saturday —in Waverly’s win over South Point.
“She is a nice player,” said Dutiel of Vulgamore. “Really nice range out here, she can shoot with someone in her face, and she can create her own shot.”
She stuffed the stat sheet as well —with seven rebounds, three steals and two assists.
“Bailey just does it all for us,” said Bonifield. “She has been our leading scorer all year, she scored her 1,000th point, and whenever the ball is in her hands, good things happen. She is a good decision-maker too. She had open looks, and was able to knock them down. It’s nice to rely on a senior guard who can go inside, go outside, is effective in our zone with her length and go gets rebounds. An all-around versatile player.”
The Lady Jeeps opted to play a box-and-one on Vulgamore for the second half, and held her to two field goals and a split of third-quarter foul shots.
But that’s when Stewart stepped up with her 14 points and team-high 10 rebounds, Caris Risner rained in a corner-pocket three to push the lead to 46-31 only 57 seconds into the fourth, and Paige O’Bryant scored two baskets in the final frame —following two in the second quarter.
“We went box-and-one on Vulgamore, and for a while, we made a run at them. But the timeout they took with us down six (33-27), we told our girls that this was where we had to hold them. But they started looking to Stewart inside, and some of those younger players were hitting shots then that they hadn’t hit all game,” said Dutiel. “That was a dagger to us.”
Indeed, a key for the Lady Tigers was others besides Stewart and Vulgamore denting the scoring column.
As part of the 24-point second quarter, Risner sank 2-of-2 free throws, while Sadie Royster’s three answered Bella Claxon’s three-point play —and made it 28-18 with 63 seconds to go.
Zimmerman paced the Lady Jeeps with 19 points despite playing with foul trouble— as she made her four twos in the third, and 2-of-2 freebies for the fourth.
She picked up her fourth foul a mere 10 seconds into the final quarter.
Wright finished with 13 points, including her two twos and 3-of-4 free throws in the last.
Claxon split a pair of fourth-quarter foul shots, and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with three assists.
But with only four team steals, 19 turnovers and a 32-percent shooting clip (13-of-41) —and when Waverly’s top player outscored South Webster by herself for one half (19-18) —momma indeed warned us about nights such as these.
Both teams entered Monday night at 6-5 in the SOC II, as the Lady Jeeps dropped to now 9-8.
Waverly is a Division II program, as South Webster was swept by West and Wheelersburg —the top two teams on the SOC II totem pole.
The Lady Jeeps also lost a 60-57 overtime heartbreaker against 12-win Minford (12-4, 10-2 SOC II) —where South Webster traveled to on Thursday night.
“We’ve lost to good teams. I feel like on any given night we can play with just about anybody on our schedule. We just have had, like we did tonight, letdowns at crucial times in the game and nobody stepping up to take the slack,” said Dutiel. “This is another learning experience. I am really proud of the effort the kids gave, we just have some things we still need learn and execute better on.”
* * *
South Webster 6 12 11 10 —39
Waverly 8 24 9 13— 54
SOUTH WEBSTER 39 (9-8, 6-6 SOC II)
Addi Claxon 1 0-0 3, Bella Claxon 1 2-3 4, Kerith Wright 4 3-4 13, Skylar Zimmerman 7 2-2 19, Riley Raynard 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Murphy 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 13 7-9 39; Three-point field goals: 6 (Skylar Zimmerman 3, Kerith Wright 2, Addi Claxon 1)
WAVERLY 54 (9-5, 7-5 SOC II)
Kelli Stewart 7 0-0 14, Caris Risner 1 2-2 5, Morgan Crabtree 0 0-0 0, Bailey Vulgamore 7 7-8 24, Aerian Tackett 0 0-0 0, Sadie Royster 1 0-0 3, Paige O’Bryant 4 0-0 8; TOTALS 20 9-10 54; Three-point field goals: 5 (Bailey Vulgamore 3, Caris Risner and Sadie Royster 1 apiece)