SOUTH WEBSTER — The first step in the South Webster Lady Jeeps’ postseason run is complete, meaning more win-or-go home basketball for coach Ryan Dutiel’s group.
With their 64-47 win over New Boston in Saturday’s Division IV sectional championship, the Lady Jeeps punched their ticket into this week’s district tournament — with the goal of continuing their postseason march.
“We’re thrilled to get to go to the district,” Dutiel said, after the win. “We set some goals earlier in the year, and making a deep tournament run is something we want to do.”
The sectional championship win is South Webster’s first since the 2016-17 season — and first for any member of this year’s Lady Jeeps’ roster.
An injury to Baylee Cox — one of three SW seniors a season ago — just a day before their sectional championship game last season hampered a potential run as a No. 8 seed.
Earning a No. 5 seed and hosting the Lady Tigers’ “Fab Five” in this year’s sectional championship positioned the Lady Jeeps to indeed end their four-year sectional drought.
“It means everything to these girls. That’s one of the goals we set as a coaching staff and the players as well. A lot of these girls, it’s something they’ve never gotten to do before — cut down a net. That’s huge in a career as a player because it’s something you can put your hands on in reflection for what they accomplished.”
South Webster (13-7) scored a season-high first-half points in their 17-point win — anchoring a 49-20 advantage at halftime after scoring 31 points in the second quarter alone.
Unofficially, SW forced 15 New Boston turnovers while committing just seven — and using a rotation that went 12 deep over the course of the contest.
“We knew this was tournament basketball and tournament basketball is possession basketball — trying to keep turnovers at a minimum and try to convert on their mistakes,” Dutiel said. “We tried to keep fresh legs on the floor at all times. I was subbing three and four girls in at a time, earlier than I usually do so that we stayed fresh.”
Although the Lady Jeeps did expand their lead to past the 35-point running clock rule, the Lady Tigers hardly laid down.
Instead, NB won the second half 27-15 — and posted its game-best 21 points in the fourth quarter.
The first-half deficit was just too much to overcome, however, as Lady Tigers coach Kayla Wiley said SW played well against them in the win.
“We struggled to rebound early on and to take care of the basketball,” Wiley said. “I thought Webster did a good job causing some of the turnovers and crashing the boards hard. They are a solid team and played well tonight.”
South Webster connected on four made threes in the win — one each by Skylar Zimmerman, Riley Raynard, Bri Claxon and Faith Maloney.
Maloney and Claxon combined to score 41 of the Lady Jeeps’ 64 points as the catalysts of their offensive explosion in the game’s first 16 minutes.
“We did well shooting. When they come out focused like that, they can be very good shooters. Faith especially, she has a whole other level that I don’t think people have seen yet,” Dutiel said. “She turned it up a notch and she and Bri really took over and said, we’re going to lead from the front.”
New Boston (8-12) will graduate its lone senior — Shelby Easter — from its 2020-21 roster.
Easter was a member of each of the Lady Tigers’ three consecutive Division IV sectional championships over her first three seasons, and will be someone their team and coaching staff will miss, Wiley said.
“We will miss Shelby tremendously next year and she has grown so much as a player,” Wiley said. “She’s a very coachable kid and I ask a lot out of her, this year especially. She didn’t complain, she just stepped up. Her work ethic has gotten her so many accomplishments in life and I couldn’t be more proud of the student-athlete she has become.”
The Lady Jeeps will continue their postseason run with a pair of familiar foes waiting, if they do indeed make a run as is in their plans.
No. 5-seed South Webster will travel to face No. 4-seed Waterford in Thursday night’s Division IV district semifinals — as they seek the program’s first-ever win against the higher-seeded Lady Wildcats.
In a seven-year span from 2010 thru 2017, South Webster and Waterford met six times — three times in the Division IV regional semifinals and another three times in district championship games — each going the way of Waterford.
This time, the two will meet in the district semis stage — with the Lady Jeeps traveling to face the Lady Wildcats on their home court.
South Webster will travel to Washington County looking to make program history, and to do so, Dutiel believes they’ll need to give Waterford everything they’ve got.
“They’re a really talented team — we want to play at our peak,” Dutiel said. “We’re looking forward to going up there and giving them everything we’ve got.”
The winner will face the winner of No. 9-seed Green and No. 1-seed Notre Dame in a Division IV district championship.
New Boston 9 11 6 21 — 47
South Webster 18 31 10 5 — 64
NEW BOSTON 47 (8-12)
Cadence Williams 4 0-2 8, Shelby Easter 3 5-6 11, Kenzie Whitley 5 6-10 19, Dylan O’Rourke 2 0-1 5, Cassie Williams 2 0-0 4; TOTALS: 16 11-19 47; Three-point field goals: 3 (Kenzie Whitley 2, O’Rourke 1)
SOUTH WEBSTER 64 (13-7)
Faith Maloney 8 1-2 18, Liz Shupert 2 0-0 4, Alivia Hanes 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Blanton 0 0-0 0, Grace Baker 0 0-0 0, Bri Claxon 10 2-2 23, Ava Messer 0 0-0 0, Kerith Wright 1 1-2 3, Skylar Zimmerman 2 2-2 7, Riley Raynard 1 0-0 3, Kennedy Murphy 0 0-0 0, Bella Claxon 3 0-1 6; TOTALS: 27 6-9 64; Three-point field goals: 4 (Maloney, Bri Claxon, Raynard, Zimmerman 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved