WHEELERSBURG — As the lone show in town, the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates performed their chart-topping hit — “Rolling in the depth” — for those in attendance at Thursday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II contest versus Waverly.
All musical references aside, no matter who or what lineup Wheelersburg used in any stretch of its 68-30 win over the Lady Tigers, their impact was likely positive.
In the first half, en route to building up a 37-17 lead through the first 16 minutes, the Lady Pirates’ rotation went 10 deep — and hardly showed any dropoff in who took the court.
By game’s end, Wheelersburg had played each of its 15-player rotation who dressed to play on Thursday — the lone contest in Scioto County after a slew of weather-related postponements.
The win extends the Lady Pirates’ impressive SOC II winning streak to 41 games — and improves their overall record to 14-1 (13-0 SOC II).
Following the game, Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin reflected on the positives each member of his rotation brought.
“We feel like we have a lot of kids that can contribute. We try to remind them to be patient and that their opportunity is coming, and when it does come, take advantage of it. Our depth helped us in that Mercy McAuley game as well. It’s difficult for teams,” Spradlin said. “Not everyone can play six-to-eight deep. We had kids come in today, even the eighth-ninth-10th players came in and gave us really good contributions.”
Lady Pirates sophomore Madison Whittaker ignited ‘Burg’s spark early in her reserve role.
In the first quarter alone, Whittaker connected on 3-of-4 threes and a breakaway layup to lead all scorers with 11 points.
Whittaker would finish with 16 points off the bench, including a team-high 14 first-half points.
“We’ve seen some flashes of that from her — when she gets going, she shoots the ball really well,” Spradlin said of Whittaker. “We were trying to open up some things — with her in, it helps spread out the zone even more.”
Sophomores Macee Eaton and Lexie Rucker, as well as junior Lyndsay Heimbach, entered into the game in the first half — and helped stabilize Wheelersburg’s post play.
Rucker and Heimbach combined to score 10 points in the win, whereas Eaton played the first half but did not return in the second.
“I thought Macee (Eaton) did a good job of getting it in the high post and finding some of those shooters, thought Lexie (Rucker) and Lyndsay (Heimbach) did a good job. They were kind of the beneficiaries of Madi coming in and hitting a few, and you have to honor that along with our other shooters,” Spradlin said.
Although Lady Pirate reserves combined for 28 of their 40 points, credit still goes to their starting five.
Senior Kaylee Darnell scored a game-high 17 points, including nine in the second half.
Junior Alaina Keeney scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, whereas senior Ellie Kallner scored each of her eight points in the first half.
Sophomore Makenna Walker buried a fourth-quarter three as part of her four-point effort — one of eight Lady Pirate long-range makes.
Unofficially, Wheelersburg outrebounded the Lady Tigers 32-17 — and forced 16 Waverly turnovers while committing 13 of their own.
Sarah Thompson and Kelli Stewart led Waverly with six points apiece and combined for nine rebounds — five for Thompson and four for Stewart.
Delaney Tackett scored five and had two assists, while Carli Knight had two points, two assists and four steals.
As it currently stands, Wheelersburg has just four regular-season games remaining on its schedule, beginning with Saturday’s road trip across the Ohio River to face Russell (Ky.).
The Lady Pirates’ program will find out their postseason fate and seeding on Sunday (Jan. 30), as will all Southeast District teams when the upcoming playoff brackets are released to the public.
With the strong possibility that Wheelersburg may host its first few postseason games prior to a potential Division III district final appearance, Spradlin acknowledged that with the strength of numerous teams in D3 in the SE District, his Lady Pirate group will be challenged — in a good way — regardless of whom they’re slated to face.
“There’s a lot of really good teams — it’s going to be really interesting to see how it shakes out. As is the case in most years, tournament is about matchups,” he said. “Lot of that stuff we can’t control, just have to see where we fall and hope that we get as favorable a draw as we can. But at the same time, you’re going to have to beat someone very good because there’s a lot of good teams in D3.”
* * *
Waverly 7 10 10 3 — 30
Wheelersburg 21 16 14 17 — 68
WAVERLY 30 (12-4, 8-4 SOC II)
Kelli Stewart 2 2-2 6, Carli Knight 1 0-0 2, Morgan Crabtree 0 0-0 0, Michaela Rhoads 1 1-4 3, Abbie Marshall 0 0-0 0, Ava Little 1 0-0 3, Delaney Tackett 2 0-0 5, Olivia Cooper 1 0-1 2, Sarah Thompson 3 0-0 6, Paige Carter 2 1-2 3; TOTALS: 12 4-9 30; Three-point field goals: 2 (Ava Little and Delaney Tackett 1 apiece)
WHEELERSBURG 68 (14-1, 13-0 SOC II)
Ellie Kallner 2 2-2 8, Madison Whittaker 6 0-0 16, Annie Coriell 0 0-0 0, Lauren Jolly 0 0-0 0, Kiera Kennard 1 0-0 2, Grace Charles 0 0-0 0, Jocelyn Tilley 0 0-0 0, Alaina Keeney 5 1-1 11, Isabella Hamilton 0 0-0 0, Kaylee Darnell 7 2-2 17, Lyndsay Heimbach 2 0-0 4, Makenna Walker 1 1-2 4, Lexie Rucker 2 2-2 6, Macee Eaton 0 0-0 0, Mika Jones 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 26 8-9 68; Three-point field goals: 8 (Madison Whittaker 4, Ellie Kallner 2, Kaylee Darnell and Makenna Walker 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved