SOUTH WEBSTER – With Monday’s game being their 14th of the season, three-and-a-half weeks away from the beginning of postseason play, the South Webster Lady Jeeps and coach Ryan Dutiel knew just how important earning a win would be with the visiting Waverly Lady Tigers coming to their court.
Dutiel’s bunch captured their sixth win of the season last Thursday in a 52-49 road win over Valley to cap off a two-game road stand.
South Webster (7-7, 6-4 SOC II) didn’t need to make threes or free-throws in Monday’s 47-35 must-have win over Waverly (10-4, 5-4 SOC II), connecting on just one-made three and finishing two-for-two from the charity stripe by game’s end.
Instead, it was a half-court game which the Lady Jeeps used to their advantage, connecting on 21 field goals of the two-point variety to earn a 12-point win over the Lady Tigers.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy in the first half,” Dutiel said following the win. “We wanted to try and set the tone defensively and limit their dribble penetration. When we played at their place earlier in the year, it seemed like we were giving that up too much. Made some adjustments, tried to minimize that and force the outside shot.”
South Webster out-rebounded Waverly by a 39-26 (unofficial) margin and outscored the Lady Tigers by seven points in the first half and five in the second, both of which were key in the win.
The Lady Jeeps also defended well, allowing no Lady Tiger to score in double-figures and holding SOC II first team guard Zoiee Smith scoreless until the junior connected on a three in the fourth quarter, her only made field goal for the game.
35 points allowed by South Webster is the third-fewest amount of points Dutiel’s group have allowed in their first 14 games.
“Owning the boards like that is something we want the kids to do every time,” Dutiel said. “When you have two six-footers (Baylee Cox and Faith Maloney), both of them being very athletic, I expect to get a lot of rebounds. They did a great job of being in the right places to be able to box out and rebound.”
A balanced scoring effort aided South Webster in their 12-point win with three Lady Jeeps scoring in double figures.
Bri Claxon led all scorers with a game-high 16 points on eight-made field goals, Baylee Cox scored 10 with eight coming in the first half, Kenzie Hornikel scored all ten of her points in the second half, Faith Maloney scored each of her six points in the first half, and Liz Shupert’s third quarter made-three was the lone one the Jeeps would connect on from beyond-the-arc as the junior guard finished with five points.
Claxon, the Lady Jeeps sophomore guard who averages 17.7 points per game through her team’s first 14 games, has notched at least eight points in each of those contests. However, Monday’s win was just the fourth time this season South Webster has put three girls in double-figures in scoring, and just their third win of the season in which that has been the case.
“Everybody knows about Bri. Obviously the more people that can score, the more pressure it takes off of her,” Dutiel said of their balance in Monday’s win. “It forces other teams to guard all of our players – they can’t slack off of them because they’re a scoring threat. That’s something we’ve been working on in practice, getting others involved and trying to be a more balanced team.”
Monday’s win evens the Lady Jeeps record to 7-7, their first time being .500 in a six-game span (last 4-4).
Their 12-point win over Waverly, while also being revenge for the 49-37 loss they suffered on the Tigers’ home court earlier this season, also happens to come at the perfect time.
For Dutiel, with a season-ending eight-game stretch that includes road games versus Minford, Eastern, Jackson, Clay, and West, and a three-out-of-four home-stretch to end the regular season versus Northwest, Oak Hill, and Wheelersburg, his and his team’s focus is on their ball control and limiting turnovers.
South Webster committed just 14 turnovers (unofficial) with 10 assists on 22-made field goals in what will be a major point of emphasis down-the-stretch for the Lady Jeeps.
“I’m hoping that we’re starting to find out how to take care of the ball for a whole four quarters,” Dutiel said. “We’ve had games in the past where we’ve played well one half and not the other, we get sloppy at different times. We hope at this point we’re starting to gel, be more comfortable with one another, and start being smarter with our passes. That’s huge going into postseason because we want to dictate tempo, and we want to make sure we control the boards and limit turnovers.”
Waverly 9 8 20 8 – 35
South Webster 14 10 15 8 – 47
Waverly 35 (10-5, 5-4 SOC II)
Kelli Stewart 4 0-0 8, Lydia Brown 0 2-4 2, Raelynn Dale 0 1-2 1, Delaney Tackett 1 0-0 3, Zoiee Smith 1 0-0 3, Sarah Thompson 3 0-0 6, Paige Carter 4 1-1 9, Brooklyn Wagner 1 0-0 2, Morgan Crabtree 0 1-2 1, Carli Knight 0 0-0 0, Michaela Rhoads 0 0-0 0, Olivia Cooper 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 14 5-9 35; Three-point field goals: 2 (Smith, Tackett 1 apiece)
South Webster 47 (7-7, 6-4 SOC II)
Faith Maloney 3 0-0 6, Liz Shupert 2 0-0 5, Kenzie Hornikel 5 0-0 10, Baylee Cox 4 2-2 10, Bri Claxon 8 0-0 16, Liz Shupert 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Blanton 0 0-0 0, Kerith Wright 0 0-0 0, Riley Raynard 0 0-0 0, Kennedy Murphy 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 22 2-2 47; Three-point field goals: 1 (Shupert 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved