Usually, when a player is feeling under the weather, said player isn’t expected to come up big with a career performance.
However, Shania Massie not only gutted out the flu, but put together arguably the best performance of her career through her two seasons in a Shawnee State women’s basketball uniform on Saturday afternoon against Georgetown (Ky.).
The junior guard, who is more well-known for her hustle and scrappiness as a vital role cog to the Bears’ effective bench, added a strong scoring punch of her own as Massie knocked down seven of her 12 shot attempts — including a strong 4-of-8 mark from behind the line — as Shawnee State rolled to an 87-52 victory over Georgetown, clinched a share of the Mid-South Conference’s regular season title, and sewed up the No. 1 seed in the Mid-South Conference Tournament all in one fell swoop in a special Senior Day at Frank and Janis Waller Gymnasium.
“Shania had a really special day,” Shawnee State head coach Jeff Nickel said. “She’s sick and wasn’t feeling well. I really didn’t know how much she was going to play (on Saturday), or if she was going to play at all, with how ill she was. She just came out and shot the ball extremely well, was able to get to the basket and finish, and just had a great game.”
From the outside, Shawnee State was simply feeling it from behind the line as the Bears — who knocked down 14 three-pointers in the contest — canned six of those treys in the opening quarter alone. Massie, Madison Ridout, and Hannah Miller each drained a pair of treys as the Bears ultimately finished the frame on a 16-8 run en route to a 24-13 first-quarter lead.
Shawnee State, however, was just beginning to get the ball rolling from behind the line.
After nailing six first-quarter treys, the Bears added seven more makes from deep to completely put the game out of reach as Shawnee State’s 13-of-24 mark from deep in the first half of play, along with a stellar two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratio (20 assists to just 10 turnovers for the game) allowed Shawnee State to develop a 57-29 halftime advantage. A 21-2 run during the second quarter allowed the Bears to turn a nine-point lead into the 28-point margin as Ashton Lovely knocked down all three of her treys during the spurt while Massie added her two remaining three-pointers in the same run to put the game out of reach.
“We definitely took care of the basketball,” Nickel said. “I’m happy with how we took care of it. We made really good decisions out on the floor. Georgetown played a lot of 3-2 zone during the beginning of the game, and I thought that we handled that very well.”
Shawnee State, however, only continued to step up its game. In the second half of action, the Bears held Georgetown to just 21 percent shooting as the Tigers only obtained 23 points off of 28 field goal attempts, combined to 29 off of 25 in the first half.
“We really set the tone defensively and stuck with it,” Nickel said. “We got used to some of the action that they were running, and our girls just sat down and took a lot of their first and second options away. The thing that I was impressed the most with was our ability to rebound the basketball. I thought that we did a great job limiting their offensive rebounding. That’s a team that was averaging about 25 threes taken per game, and we held them to 23 threes attempted while only allowing them to hit four of those. I was happy with how we got out and contested shots.”
However, it wouldn’t be a full contest without including the two seniors from Jackson. Ridout and Lydia Poe, who each played their final games as Frank and Janis Waller Gymnasium, each showed the crowd why they will be remembered for a long time to come as Ridout put together 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, nine rebounds, and six assists to just one turnover while Poe — who started but only played seven minutes as the coaching staff decided to rest Poe up for the looming postseason play that is coming up — grabbed four rebounds, scored on a bucket inside, and got to the free throw line twice in making every minute count.
“It was great,” Nickel said. “I thought that they both played well. It was just typical of how they play. Madison was very, very balanced, and Lydia played well in limited minutes. We tried to rest her today and get her healthy as we get closer to the postseason, so we were able to sit her today. It’s just great to get everybody involved out there and obtain a great team win. We were able to play like ourselves. It gives us a great sendoff.”
In addition to Massie and Ridout, Miller and Lovely also finished in double-figures with 15 and 12 points, respectively while posting three-to-one and two-to-one assist-to-turnover ratios. Bailey Cummins added six points while the freshmen quartet of Leah Wingeier, Hagen Schaefer, Laken Smith, and Sienna King scored four, three, three, and two points, respectively, to put all 10 players in the scoring column.
“I was happy,” Nickel said. “We got to play everybody, everybody scored, and everybody was involved. That was great for our younger guys to get some experience and get some minutes there. We got to utilize a lot of different lineups and rotations, which I was really happy about. We got to play five guards together, we got to play two posts together, and we played one post. So it was great to get those various lineups out there playing together, because that’s going to help us down the line with the different teams that we are going to have to face.”
With the victory, Shawnee State improved to 25-3 overall and 12-0 in the Mid-South. However, to win the conference outright — which the Bears can do with just one victory over either Cumberlands (Ky.) or Life (Ga.) on the road — they’ll have to face a Patriots squad that played No. 9-ranked Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) to a 62-54 margin and Cumberland (Tenn.) to a 51-46 margin. Shawnee State takes on Cumberlands on Thursday while the Running Eagles, who are 10-17 overall and 1-11 in Mid-South action, follow on Saturday.
“It’s tough to win on the road in the Mid-South,” Nickel said. “Life’s been playing better basketball as of late, and Cumberlands played Lindsey Wilson to an eight-point game and was in a very tight contest with Cumberland (Tenn.) so both teams are playing their best basketball of the season. Those are going to be two very tough challenges. Cumberlands is always a very tough place to play. They’re very well-coached, very disciplined, and they’re a basketball team that doesn’t beat themselves. We’ve got a tough test on Thursday, and we’re going to have to be focused and be ready to play.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @KColleyPDT