McDERMOTT — Eden Cline clearly represented the West Lady Senators’ big early Christmas present on Monday night.
And, combine Cline with the Lady Senators’ defensive gems early and a few free throws late — it made for a somewhat muddied but quality win for visiting West at its Northwest neighbors.
That’s because the Lady Senators stymied the host Mohawks to 11 first-half points, and held off a hard-charging Northwest fourth-quarter comeback — capturing a key 43-37 Southern Ohio Conference Division II tilt.
West, with the win and off its near-upset of defending division champion Wheelersburg, raised its record to 3-2 — and to 2-1 in the SOC II.
The Mohawks, last season’s runner-up to the Lady Pirates and whose only league losses were against Wheelersburg with only one although a significant graduation, fell for the first time in three games.
The loss left Northwest at 1-1 in the league — and suddenly took some sparkle off Thursday’s first of two matchups between the Pirates and Mohawks.
But the underclassmen-heavy and ever-improving Lady Senators want in on this championship chase as well —and are already within four points (50-46) from being the league leaders, and possibly undefeated at 5-0.
“This is a huge win on the road for us. Northwest swept us last year. These girls’ hard work and willingness to do what we’re telling them to do is really paying off,” said West coach Megan Artrip. “This game and the last two games where we didn’t have Eden Cline, I think that says a lot about where we are at right now.”
In a Nov. 28 non-league affair, West was leading the host Coal Grove Lady Hornets throughout —until the fourth quarter when the host Hornets pushed past and pulled it out.
The catalyst Cline was out for both of those setbacks.
But back to Monday night at Northwest, the Lady Senators scored 13 unanswered over a full quarter span in the opening half to stake a double-digit advantage (15-4).
Their lead was as large as 20-8 with 48 seconds showing in the second stanza, but twice the Mohawks chipped away —whittling the deficit down to three points, including for the second time at 40-37 with only 23 seconds remaining.
However, and despite missing eight fourth-quarter free throws, the Senators sank enough —including freshman Emma Sayre splitting a pair of double-bonus situations over a six-and-a-half second span in the final 25.5.
Her second split with 19 tics to play made it 41-37, and after Ava Jenkins’ corner three for the Mohawks misfired and West’s Lexi Deaver grabbed the long rebound, Deaver drained her double-bonus shots with 9.2 seconds left for the 43-37 final.
The Senators shot 17 fourth-quarter free throws, but missed half of them, allowing the Mohawks to hang around and rally late —after West went up 31-21 a minute into the final period.
But Sayre’s splits in the final 25 seconds, followed by Deaver’s pair and Cline converting two for a 39-33 lead with 39 seconds showing, proved to be enough.
Keima Bennett bagged the pair for the aforementioned 10-point lead, and Charlie Jo Howard split a pair with 2:22 remaining for a 37-29 margin.
All eight of the Lady Senators which played on Monday were underclassmen, and shot some pressure-packed free throws.
“We missed that many in the fourth quarter, and luckily, we were still able to come away with the win. Down the stretch, though, we have to be better at those,” said Artrip. “We had some young kids shooting free throws and I guess that’s going to happen, but we’re putting in too many free throws during the week to come out and miss eight in the fourth quarter of a big game.”
But, like the Lady Pirates’ defense traveling in their win over West, the Senators turned that trick themselves against the Mohawks.
The Senators forced several missed Mohawk shots and 14 first-half turnovers, as Northwest went exactly eight minutes and 15 seconds in the first half without a single solitary point.
Northwest coach Dave Frantz said his Mohawks did not begin the game with the intensity necessary to win — or the strong second-half energy they displayed.
“I give West a lot of credit because they dictated the speed of the game and they were up in us defensively. They came out with a lot more intensity then we did,” he said. “We missed a lot of open shots and we struggled with turnovers because they played well, but they came out on fire more than we did. We got a lot of the shots we wanted, but we just didn’t make them. Missed a lot of open threes that we usually hit.”
Reagan Lewis and Kloe Montgomery managed first-quarter baskets, as Montgomery scored for the Mohawks with four-and-a-half minutes to play in the opening quarter.
The Lady Senators, buoyed by three three-pointers including two by Cline and one by Howard alongside a Cline deuce, scored 13 consecutive to take a 15-4 lead.
Valerie Copas ended the Lady Mohawks’ drought at the 4:15 mark of the second stanza with a basket, as she then made two foul shots — before Howard hit her second and other trifecta.
Northwest finally broke into double figures for the half —when Lewis landed a three-ball with 32 seconds to play.
“One of our strategies was for our defense to turn into some points for us. The first quarter, we held them to four points and set the tone for the game. We’ve been really pleased with our defense and how we’ve played teams,” said Artrip. “We were able to finally finish one today.”
It helped the Lady Senators, too, to have Cline back.
Her 15 points paced all scorers, as she canned her third triple for a 34-23 West lead with 5:05 to go.
Her second two-pointer, a layup off a steal, put the Senators ahead 26-17 late in the third.
“So happy to have Eden back,” said Artrip. “She is a game-changer. When she is in, she can get on a roll and she did that tonight. We sure missed her the last two games, but that is the nature of where we’re at with this COVID.”
Howard complimented Cline with 11 points on four field goals — as Deaver, Bennett and Maelynn Howell had one bucket and two free throws apiece for four points.
Copas and Haidyn Wamsley, Northwest’s top two returning scorers this season, each amounted 11 points on three field goals and 4-of-6 freebies.
Lewis added seven on two baskets and 2-of-3 at the line, as Wamsley, Lewis and Copas connected on one three-pointer apiece.
“The second half, we turned it around and we picked up our intensity and controlled the pace,” said Frantz. “We got it down to three (40-37) and had to foul, so we ran out of time, but it was our own fault. We just come out too flat and lacked intensity, and you can’t do that against a good test like West.”
The Mohawks must not do that at Wheelersburg on Thursday either, or they will have two league losses —and it’s not even mid-December.
West, meanwhile, will host South Webster on Thursday night in the SOC II —as that contest has been bumped up from Monday, Dec. 21.
* * *
West 10 10 9 14 —43
Northwest 4 7 10 17—37
WEST 43 (3-2, 2-1 SOC II)
Maelynn Howell 1 2-4 4, Abby Adkins 0 1-2 1, Eden Cline 5 2-3 15, Haley Coleman 1 0-0 2, Emma Sayre 0 2-4 2, Lexi Deaver 1 2-4 4, Charlie Jo Howard 4 1-2 11, Keima Bennett 1 2-2 4; TOTALS 13 12-21 43; Three-point goals: 5 (Eden Cline 3, Charlie Jo Howard 2)
NORTHWEST 37 (2-1, 1-1 SOC II)
Terah Webb 0 1-2 1, Valerie Copas 3 4-6 11, Haidyn Wamsley 3 4-6 11, Ava Jenkins 1 1-2 3, Faith Jewett 0 0-0 0, Reagan Lewis 2 2-3 7, Audrey Knittel 0 0-0 0, Kloe Montgomery 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 11 12-19 37; Three-point goals: 3 (Valerie Copas, Haidyn Wamsley and Reagan Lewis 1 apiece)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved