Lady Pirates push past Jeeps


Burg stretches SOC II streak to 46

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



Wheelersburg junior Makenna Walker (25) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Bella Claxon (20) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School.

Wheelersburg junior Makenna Walker (25) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Bella Claxon (20) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School.


Ed Litteral | Daily Times

South Webster senior Bri Claxon scored 30 of the Lady Jeeps’ 55 points in their Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game against Wheelersburg on Monday night.


Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Wheelersburg senior Alaina Keeney (20) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Riley Raynard (23) and Faith Maloney (2) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School.


Ed Litteral | Daily Times

SOUTH WEBSTER — Still legged from their run to the state volleyball tournament two-and-a-half weeks ago, the South Webster Lady Jeeps did their best to make a push at the Wheelersburg Lady Pirates.

But nobody pushes back better in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II than what Wheelersburg does.

In the Lady Pirates’ latest test on Monday night at South Webster High School, Wheelersburg withstood a Lady Jeep second-half rally that got to within four points —as two Lady Pirates posted 21 points apiece, and Wheelersburg won its 46th consecutive SOC II girls basketball bout with a 66-55 victory.

That’s correct.

With wins over Waverly and South Webster on back-to-back Mondays, the Lady Pirates are now 3-0 —and 2-0 to start November, in their domain that has been dominance inside the SOC II.

Wheelersburg is the three-time defending division champion (2019, 2020 and 2021) —following a four-of-five league titles stretch since the 2012-13 campaign (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017).

Meanwhile, the Lady Jeeps just had eight true practices prior to Monday’s matchup —as the SWHS volleyball squad, which includes five regular rotation basketball players, reached the Division IV state Final Four for the first time in school history.

Monday marked their season opener, as South Webster and West postponed their scheduled SOC II opener a week ago to later in the season.

The Jeeps did lead at 4-3 following back-to-back picture-esque jump shots by senior standout and returning all-Ohio second-teamer Bri Claxon, and Skylar Zimmerman split a pair of free throws for the game’s only tie at 5-5 at the 2:54 mark of the opening quarter.

But the perimeter-oriented Lady Pirates, as they have done so well in recent seasons, just kept firing away from three-point territory —and got an assist from starting at the shooter-friendly stage end inside the SWHS gym.

Wheelersburg, which burned the Lady Jeeps from long range in last season’s meeting at South Webster, wound up with 10 total trifectas — seven of which were in the opening half.

An Alaina Keeney three-pointer, one of her five for the game, pushed the Lady Pirates up to a 37-22 advantage only a minute and 22 seconds into the third period —but Wheelersburg was in a second-half battle for the final 14 minutes and 38 seconds.

That’s because the Lady Jeeps got the stage end and red-hot rim, and made four threes in the third including two by Claxon —slicing the deficit down to 53-45.

The Lady Jeeps then reduced that deficit in half (53-49) with only 55 seconds elapsed in the fourth, but the Pirates pushed right back with seven consecutive points —including Makenna Walker with her third and final triple with 4:53 remaining.

Inside the final four minutes, South Webster was only able to get within single digits once (60-51) —as Wheelersburg won the final canto 13-10 to remain undefeated.

Truth be told, it’s a newer-look Lady Pirates’ band —but one which has plenty of varsity experience, and can still live luxuriously along the three-point line.

Wheelersburg graduated three starters in Kaylee Darnell, Ellie Kallner and Lauren Jolly —as Darnell is now excelling at the University of Rio Grande, while Kallner committed to play college basketball at Concordia.

But with the two-time all-Southeast District Division III second-team selection (Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association) Keeney now spearheading the charge, the Orange and Black is back —and living life largely on the perimeter.

“We can obviously shoot the ball, but this group is still trying to figure out how to play with each other. We lost three starters, and we’re trying to figure out a lot on the fly,” said veteran Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin.

Speaking of letting it fly, Keeney and Walker poured in 21 points apiece to pace the Lady Pirates —as both made three twos and combined for eight treys, with Walker sinking 6-of-13 free throws.

Keeney connected for back-to-back three-balls to break the 5-5 tie, Walker with a corner-pocket three made it 15-8 only 22 seconds into the second stanza following her game-opening triple, and Madison Whittaker went back-to-back from beyond the arc to make it 31-20 with two-and-a-half minutes left in the half.

Finally, Keeney’s third first-half three with 10 seconds left made it 34-20.

SWHS coach Ryan Dutiel had seen this shooting display from Wheelersburg before.

However, his Lady Jeeps just had their basketball legs before playing the Lady Pirates in years past —as Zimmerman and Bella Claxon were beset with first-half foul trouble.

“Wheelersburg is a quality team, they are every year and Dusty (Spradlin) does a great job. We tried to get out there and run them off the (three-point) line, but we were not consistent in doing that,” said Dutiel. “We would give them two or three, then we ran them off the line and get a turnover or a stop, but that’s a matter of having our basketball legs being able to do that.”

The Lady Jeeps spent a high amount of energy battling back in the third quarter —scoring 23 points, after totaling 22 in the entire opening half.

The scoring machine Bri Claxon, who erupted for 30 of South Webster’s 55 points, collected 10 third-period counters —as Riley Raynard’s three made it 38-27, and Faith Maloney mustered a corner triple to make it 53-45 with 22 tics left.

Claxon and Maloney then scored again at the outset of the fourth, but the Lady Pirates got a key inside basket by junior Macee Eaton.

That made it 55-49 with 6:46 to play, then Keeney canned a corner three off a cross-court zone pass — and Wheelersburg wore South Webster down from there.

A pair of Whittaker free throws, to give her 10 total points, made it 66-53.

Eaton added eight points on four field goals and grabbed 11 rebounds, as Lexie Rucker scored inside three times for six.

Spradlin said the Lady Pirates’ play on the interior, especially late, and defensively while rebounding well were all key factors for the positive outcome.

“Sometimes when you make some of those shots early, you start settling for more and more jumpers. But there has to be a balance. When we really needed a basket tonight, those shots in the paint were huge. We had four girls with at least three two-pointers, all in the paint,” said the coach. “I was very proud of how we battled, and we talked a lot about defense and defensive rebounding being keys. (Bri) Claxon is just so quick and her pull-up jumpers are just so good. It’s a tough matchup, and going in, we’re trying to make it as tough as we can.”

Claxon still scored 30 on a dozen total field goals and 4-of-5 free throws —but besides six points apiece from Raynard and Maloney, no other Lady Jeep had more than five.

Raynard rained in a pair of threes along with Claxon —as Maloney and Bella Claxon converted for one apiece.

Zimmerman and Makayla Raynard scored five points each.

“That’s something we’ve talked about. Bri (Claxon) is an extraordinary player who is going to do great things at the next level. We just need others to step up,” said Dutiel. “It’s always going to be a physical game with us and Burg, and not having our basketball legs also affects us defensively. We got in foul trouble, and we had to go to our bench earlier than what we wanted to.”

But the Lady Jeeps did compete, and made Wheelersburg work for the win.

By the time the two rematch at Wheelersburg, they should completely have their basketball legs beneath them.

“We weren’t able to have any scrimmages or anything. We haven’t had a lot of practice time or experience yet. There are some good solid things that we showed at times, and I think we will be fine as we go on,” said Dutiel. “Looking forward to moving on from this, learning from our mistakes, and trying to build on for the rest of the season.”

As for the ongoing, there’s that Wheelersburg winning streak in the SOC II.

Spradlin swears it’s not a talking points memo, and insists that his Lady Pirates play their next games completely separate from their last.

“I didn’t know that number (46), but I knew you would know it,” he said, with a slight laugh. “Honestly, we haven’t talked about it. We feel our league is really good this year and South Webster will be one of the better teams. We just want our kids to be playing a high level, and streaks and stuff like that are nice, but we don’t worry about that. I thought our kids were really good tonight and we got great contributions from everybody that played. We’re going to have to be ready to play every game in our league, because I really believe anybody can beat you on any night.”

* * *

Wheelersburg 12 22 19 13— 66

South Webster 8 14 23 10 — 55

WHEELERSBURG 66 (3-0, 2-0 SOC II)

Madison Whittaker 3 2-2 10, Annie Coriell 0 0-0 0, Lyndsay Heimbach 0 0-0 0, Kiera Kennard 0 0-0 0, Alaina Keeney 8 0-2 21, Makenna Walker 6 6-13 21, Lexie Rucker 3 0-0 6, Macee Eaton 4 0-0 8; TOTALS 24 8-17 66; Three-point field goals: 10 (Alaina Keeney 5, Makenna Walker 3, Madison Whittaker 2)

SOUTH WEBSTER 55 (0-1, 0-1 SOC II)

Faith Maloney 2 1-2 6, Cailee Blevins 0 0-0 0, Alivia Hanes 0 0-0 0, Makayla Raynard 1 3-4 5, Grace Baker 0 0-0 0, Bri Claxon 12 4-5 30, Bella Claxon 1 0-0 3, Skylar Zimmerman 2 1-2 5, Riley Raynard 2 0-0 6, Kennedy Murphy 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 20 9-13 55; Three-point field goals: 6 (Bri Claxon and Riley Raynard 2 apiece, Faith Maloney and Bella Claxon 1 apiece)

Wheelersburg junior Makenna Walker (25) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Bella Claxon (20) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/11/web1_Burg-SW-girls-Walker.jpgWheelersburg junior Makenna Walker (25) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Bella Claxon (20) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School. Ed Litteral | Daily Times

South Webster senior Bri Claxon scored 30 of the Lady Jeeps’ 55 points in their Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game against Wheelersburg on Monday night.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/11/web1_Burg-SW-girls-Claxon.jpgSouth Webster senior Bri Claxon scored 30 of the Lady Jeeps’ 55 points in their Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game against Wheelersburg on Monday night. Ed Litteral | Daily Times

Wheelersburg senior Alaina Keeney (20) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Riley Raynard (23) and Faith Maloney (2) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2021/11/web1_Burg-SW-girls-Keeney.jpgWheelersburg senior Alaina Keeney (20) puts up a shot over South Webster’s Riley Raynard (23) and Faith Maloney (2) during Monday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II girls basketball game at South Webster High School. Ed Litteral | Daily Times
Burg stretches SOC II streak to 46

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved