No. 5 Minford vs. No. 4 North Adams at Valley
It’ll be no easy road for the Minford Falcons to advance to the district semifinals as a looming sectional final with four seeded North Adams is on the horizon Saturday.
With guard play similar to that of Minford’s Caitlyn Puckett, Maddie Slusher, and Livi Shonkwiler, the North Adams Green Devils are a team that likes to play up-tempo basketball and get out and shoot transition threes.
Luckily for the Falcons, as their regular season winds down, the Falcons perimeter defense, thanks to the aforementioned three, is maybe one of their best qualities on either end of the court.
If Minford hopes to win and advance to the district semifinals next week, they have to rely on their strong perimeter defensive play and hope that center Ashley Blankenship can be a neutralizing force on both the offensive and defensive ends.
No. 9 South Webster vs. No. 1 Eastern Brown at Valley
After the Jeeps first sectional semifinal win as a Division III competitior, another tall task stands in between South Webster (10-13) and a sectional title win, and that’s an Eastern Brown (20-2) team most recently ranked #9 in Division III in the final AP poll of the season released on Tuesday.
The Warriors are led by Eastern Kentucky University signee Alexa Pennington, guard Camryn Pickerill, and are coached by Pickerill’s father, Kevin Pickerill. Eastern has outright won the last three Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC) I titles and hope to continue their success from this season into the district tournament.
For the Jeeps to play spoiler against the higher ranked seed, they’ll need excellent play from freshman guard Bri Claxon who had a game high 14 against Piketon in the sectional semifinals, as well as from senior Maddie Cook who finished with 10 against the Redstreaks.
Another thing the Jeeps need to limit in this contest is turnovers. Monday against Piketon, South Webster finished with 26 turnovers, a number that will need to come down if the Jeeps hope to pull off the upset.
No. 10 Valley vs. No. 2 Fairland at Jackson
After winning their sectional semifinal contest over Westfall on Wednesday, the Valley Indians will face a tall task in order to advance to the district semifinals next week. Waiting in the wings is the outright OVC champion Fairland Dragons who also find themselves as a number two seed.
The Dragons main option is Allie Marshall, a McDonald’s All-American nominee in her own right. Limiting her production will be pertinent if Valley wants to pull off the upset. Marshall finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds in the Dragons sectional semifinal win over Zane Trace on Wednesday, and a key in the Indians game plan will be keeping her and her teammates off the offensive glass.
For Valley, they will need to get hot shooting at the beginning of the game as they did against Westfall on Wednesday to take a lead and be able to hold it throughout the contest. A big part of establishing that early lead is the play and shooting ability of Bre Call and Karsyn Conaway. If the Indians can get out to as fast of a start as they did just three days ago, they’ll position themselves very nicely.
No. 3 Wheelersburg vs. No. 6 Huntington at Valley
Both Wheelersburg (19-4) and Huntington (17-6) come into Saturday’s sectional final on just one day’s rest before their bid for a spot in the district semifinals.
In facing the Huntsmen on Saturday, Wheelersburg will face a tough test involving a player who works constantly to get rebounds off of missed shots in Allison Basye.
For the season, Basye is averaging a double-double and in the Huntsmen’s sectional semifinal win over Fairfield, the freshman had 31 points and eight rebounds. For Wheelersburg to come away with a win, they’ll need to find a way to limit Basye, as well as the school’s all time leading scorer in Braiden Collins who finished with 22 points on Thursday.
However, Huntington will need to guard Wheelersburg on the other end. With elite scoring options such as Abbie Kallner, Kaylee Darnell, Alaina Keeney, and Ellie Kallner, the Pirates will be a tough out for any team who tries to slow them down.
No. 3 Clay vs. No. 6 Western at Northwest
It seems fitting that after splitting the season series 1-1 that these two SOC I foes will face each other once again in the sectional final to not only determine who will advance to the district semifinals in Jackson next week, but also for who will win the head to head series this season over the other team.
Clay fell to Western this Tuesday, February 12th, in a rescheduled conference game, 61-55 in overtime. Haley Whitt and Sylvia Evans led the Indians in scoring in their most recent win over the Panthers with 21 and 19 respectively.
For Clay, Jensen Warnock had a game high 29 in the Panthers loss Tuesday. For them to avenge their loss from Tuesday, Clay will need to play solid perimeter defense without fouling and putting Western at the line, as well as attack the basket and hit their open shots on the offensive end.
No. 7 Green vs. No. 2 Peebles at Northwest
Three days after earning their first tournament win in a decade, Green finds themselves with the opportunity to win their first sectional title in as many years as they prepare to face Southern Hills Athletic Conference II champion, Peebles.
The Indians are led by sophomore guard Jacey Justice, sister of Beau Justice from Peebles teams of old, and are coached by Billie Jo Justice, mother of Beau and Jacey. Jacey leads the Indians in scoring with 24.6 points per game, as well as being a force on the defensive end by averaging 4.8 steals per game.
Ball security, limiting turnovers, and playing sound defense against one of the district’s best players will help lift the Bobcats to their first sectional final win in a decade.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT