McDERMOTT — The old adage goes that it’s hard to beat a team three times in one season.
The opposite held true in Saturday’s Division III girls sectional semifinal contest between Southern Ohio Conference Division II rivals Minford and Northwest — as the Lady Mohawks won 42-27, sweeping the season series against the Lady Falcons on their home court.
This year’s tournament games are being hosted by the higher-seeded team through at least the district semifinals, allowing for Northwest to be one of the 14 higher-seeded teams to win in Division III sectional contests over the weekend.
The lone road “upset” came the way of Portsmouth West, which took care of Southeastern, 48-37.
In the win, Northwest (15-6, 9-5 SOC II) held Minford (5-16, 3-13 SOC II) to a trio of single-digit scoring quarters — in what has become a staple of their length and activity defensively.
The Lady Mohawks raced out to a first-half double-digit lead before Lady Falcons senior Livi Shonkwiler cut the lead to one on a steal and buzzer-beating layup, making the score 20-11 with 16 minutes left to play.
“We had to hit shots, you can’t be more thrilled with our defense. And I think us hitting our shots early was big for us on the other end,” Northwest coach Dave Frantz said, after the win. “Even though defense was key, I think our offense in the early going set that up.”
Minford coach Shane Davis said he and his coaching staff attempted to use Shonkwiler’s deflection and bucket to close the first half as a rallying point for his team.
After all, the layup did in fact cut Northwest’s lead single digits — keeping them within firing range.
“We tried to use it and show them that it wasn’t that big of a lead,” Davis said, after the game. “Offensively, we didn’t see open players and we didn’t shoot well at all.”
Northwest, always one to counter, scored its highest point total and held Minford to its lowest coming out of the break — taking a 32-15 lead into the game’s final stanza.
Kloe Montgomery and Valerie Copas each scored seven points for the Lady Mohawks in the second half — after Haidyn Wamsley scored seven of her game-high 12 in the first.
Montgomery posted yet another double-double for Northwest, totaling a game-high 14 boards to go along with her 10 points in the win.
“She’s (Montgomery) a high motor girl — she fights, scraps in there. I thought she was one of the biggest differences in the game — it was the rebounding, her defense,” Frantz said. “Can’t say enough about her performance for us.”
Wamsley grabbed eight rebounds, dished three assists, and had four steals while Copas added 10 boards and four assists.
Northwest junior Ava Jenkins had three steals on the defensive end, in addition to her eight points, as she and Wamsley knocked down a pair of three-point goals in the win.
Jenkins drew the task of defending Shonkwiler, who finished with seven points — tied with Bella Reffit for the Lady Falcons’ team-high.
Shonkwiler, Ally Coriell, Micah Thacker and Megan Johnson are the four seniors who will graduate from the Lady Falcons’ 2020-21 roster — a group that Davis will remember for their time ever since they were freshmen.
“This group of seniors is very special to me — I’ve had them all four years,” Davis said. “They were freshmen when I was JV coach with Coach Caudill. All hard-working, fun kids — they will all be successful in whatever career path they choose.”
No. 10-seed Northwest, after winning Saturday’s sectional semifinal, will now prepare to face No. 7-seed Adena — champions of this season’s Scioto Valley Conference.
A win would give the Lady Mohawks their first sectional championship since the 2012-13 season and second since 2006, but they’re not looking at it quite in that light.
Instead, they’re hoping to take it in stride and play as they have since Frantz began coaching them — loose.
“They’re different than any other group I’ve coached in how loose they are. But when they play loose, they play better,” Frantz said. “You can look at Adena and everything they’ve accomplished, they win their league and have only lost a couple games — to us, it’s just another team we’re going to play. We know they’re good because they wouldn’t compete like they do if they weren’t, but they’re excited for the challenge, excited to study film, and these kids will go up to Adena not knowing we’re the underdogs. That’s what makes this bunch fun.”
Northwest and Adena will meet in Frankfort on Wednesday (Feb. 17) night in a Division III sectional final — with tipoff set for 7 p.m.
Minford 5 6 4 12 — 27
Northwest 9 11 12 10 — 42
MINFORD 27 (5-16)
Bella Reffit 3 0-2 7, Kynedi Davis 1 1-2 3, Ally Coriell 2 1-2 5, Livi Shonkwiler 3 0-0 7, Addy Akers 0 0-0 0, Micah Thacker 2 0-0 5; TOTALS 11 2-6 27; Three-point field goals: 3 (Bella Reffit, Livi Shonkwiler and Micah Thacker 1 apiece)
NORTHWEST 42 (15-6)
Terah Webb 0 0-0 0, Valerie Copas 3 1-2 7, Haidyn Wamsley 4 2-3 12, Ava Jenkins 3 0-0 8, Reagan Lewis 2 1-2 5, Audrey Knittel 0 0-2 0, Kloe Montgomery 5 0-2 10; TOTALS 17 4-11 42; Three-point field goals: 4 (Haidyn Wamsley and Ava Jenkins 2 apiece)
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