WHEELERSBURG — The second meeting between Northwest and Wheelersburg in Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls play took place on Saturday — just 16 days after the two’s initial meeting which saw the Lady Pirates earn a road win in McDermott.
The pair of league rivals are hardly unfamiliar with one another as last season’s SOC II race came down to their head-to-head meetings, both won by ‘Burg as part of its now 43-game league winning streak.
This season’s series also went the way of the Lady Pirates with Saturday’s result — a 57-48 win in their favor.
The Lady Pirates are already the outright SOC II champions once again.
“They’re very familiar with each other, not just this year but last with both teams finishing at the top,” Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said, after the win. “We had some good battles last year, those kids have battled each other all the way through. Coach Frantz, his kids play hard and they’re in the right place — they do a lot of good things.”
“Very proud of our girls, Wheelersburg is a No. 1-seed for a reason,” Northwest coach Dave Frantz said, after the game. “They’re talented, play hard and Dusty does a good job with them. But I can’t say enough about my kids and how they fought.”
Both teams combined for 32 points in the high-paced first period — with the Lady Pirates taking a 17-15 advantage into the second.
‘Burg senior Kaylee Darnell, after posting a career-high 35 points in the two’s first meeting just two weeks ago, scored 11 of her game-high 24 points in the first period.
The Lady Mohawks held Darnell to just 13 points across the final three quarters, as containing her scoring was a key in Northwest’s gameplan entering the game.
“They have more than Kaylee, we know that. But Kaylee was the one that hurt us the most last game so that was our No. 1 goal because when she was out at Northwest, she shot great,” Frantz said. “She still had a good game, but as a team I felt like we played better defensively.”
Although Wheelersburg built up its lead to double digits, Northwest cut that to as few as three on two separate occasions in the fourth quarter.
Valerie Copas — with a team-high 12 points — led the Lady Mohawks, ahead of Haidyn Wamsley and Ava Jenkins, who scored 11 and 10 respectively.
“I was pretty pleased with how we rebounded, especially in the first half. I felt like we gave up too many that first quarter,” Spradlin said. “We did some good things and were able to get it up to 13, but give them credit — made some shots, were aggressive and kind of forced your hand with how they were driving to the basket.”
Wheelersburg, as the No. 1 seed in the Division III Southeast District district tournament bracket, will face the winner of No. 16 Southeastern and No. 17 West in a sectional final on its home court on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The Lady Pirates do in fact have a lone SOC II makeup game versus South Webster — that will likely be played before season’s end.
Spradlin says Wheelersburg’s focus heading into the tournament will be ensuring its playing at its peak during every game, as the Lady Pirates seek their first Division III district championship since 2019.
“You approach tournament time, and you’ve got to be at your very best every moment because everything’s magnified,” Spradlin said, “Everyone comes in with the same record, we’ll have to sit down and look and make sure we’re good for long periods as we go into tournaments.”
Northwest will face league rival Minford in a Division III sectional semifinal on Saturday, Feb. 13 — the winner to face the winner of Adena and Eastern Meigs.
“I expect them to step up and lead us, and when I look at our path I look at Minford first,” Frantz said. “They’ve given us two really hard games, winner gets winner of Adena and Eastern (Meigs). We’re scouting ahead, but not looking ahead.”
Northwest 15 6 11 16 — 48
Wheelersburg 17 10 13 17 — 57
NORTHWEST 48 (14-6, 9-5 SOC II)
Terah Webb 0 0-0 0, Valerie Copas 5 2-5 12, Haidyn Wamsley 4 2-2 11, Ava Jenkins 4 2-2 10, Faith Jewett 1 1-1 3, Reagan Lewis 2 0-0 4, Audrey Knittel 0 0-0 0, Kloe Montgomery 4 0-0 8; TOTALS 20 7-10 48; Three-point field goals: 1 (Haidyn Wamsley 1)
WHEELERSBURG 57 (16-2, 15-0 SOC II)
Ellie Kallner 2 0-1 4, Madison Whittaker 1 1-2 4, Lauren Jolly 0 0-2 0, Kiera Kennard 0 0-0 0, Alaina Keeney 4 2-4 10, Kaylee Darnell 9 4-4 24, Makenna Walker 2 3-7 7, Lexie Rucker 2 4-4 8, Macee Eaton 0 0-3 0; TOTALS 20 14-27 57; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kaylee Darnell 2, Madison Whittaker 1)
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