‘Burg season ends in regional semis: UL leads wire-to-wire to advance to Region 11 Final


Union Local leads wire-to-wire to advance to Region 11 Final

By Jacob Smith - [email protected]



Wheelersburg junior Madison Whittaker (5) scored a team-high 11 points in Wednesday’s Division III, Region 11 semifinal against Belmont Union Local.

Wheelersburg junior Madison Whittaker (5) scored a team-high 11 points in Wednesday’s Division III, Region 11 semifinal against Belmont Union Local.


Courtesy of Tim Gearhart

LOGAN — The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates saw their season season come to an end inside Logan’s Jim Myers Gymnasium in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal.

Belmont Union Local led wire-to-wire in Wednesday night’s 56-45 win over the Lady Pirates, earning a spot in Saturday’s Region 11 final.

“We got tired, they had to fight so hard down in the post,” Wheelersburg coach Dusty Spradlin said, after the game. “Thought we did good on (Kildow), she scored a bunch in their district final. (Merritt) hits three threes right off the bat and you fall in that hole, our kids battled really hard to get us back in it. Told them afterwards channeling Nick Saban, ‘One loss doesn’t define this team’.”

Beating the previously unbeaten Lady Pirates (23-1) required a strong start for Union Local (24-3).

Lady Jets senior Hannah Merritt connected on four-of-four three pointers to start the game, helping Union Local build a 15-8 lead through one quarter.

Wheelersburg closed the gap in the second period, getting as close as four points at 20-16.

Union Local responded with a 9-4 run to close the half in the final 3:25, taking a nine-point lead (29-20) at the half.

Despite starting 0-of-13 and 2-0f-20 from three, ‘Burg remained in the game.

Union Local took its largest lead of the game at 43-30 early in the fourth quarter — also the largest Lady Pirates’ deficit of the postseason.

Spradlin’s group refused to quit, however, and made a run when they needed it most.

Wheelersburg closed within a point of the Lady Jets at 43-42 with less than four minutes to play — when Macee Eaton made a layup over UL’s Tori Kildow.

Like a light switch, the Lady Pirates had responded with a 12-0 run to cut the Lady Jets’ lead to one — the closest it had been since 0-0.

“I had just settled in for the ride however long they wanted to take us,” Spradlin said. “Us coaches told them how fun they are, how much we love them — they’re fierce competitors.”

Union Local then turned stops on the defensive end into points, stretching their lead back to double-digits in the closing minutes with a 10-0 run.

UL junior Reagan Vinskovich led the Lady Jets with a game-high 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, followed by Merritt’s 16 points.

Vinskovich, a two-time all-Ohioan, scored 14 of her 20 points in the second and third quarters.

The Lady Pirates committed 12 turnovers while forcing 14 Union Local turnovers — as the Lady Jets won the battle on the glass 30-25.

Wheelersburg shot 5-of-23 from beyond the three-point line in the contest.

‘Burg junior Madison Whittaker led the Lady Pirates with 11 points (three-made 3-pointers), and senior Alaina Keeney and junior Macee Eaton both scored 10 points.

Keeney finishes her outstanding career a four-time SOC II champ, three-time district champ, and 1,000-plus point scorer as a Lady Pirate.

Spradlin said Keeney’s willingness to lead the program following the graduation of three starters the prior year was a major reason in their success.

“She’s (Keeney) such a terrific kid. She wanted to be the person that led this team and she did — made big shot after big shot all season long,” Spradlin said. Those close wins we had during the year, she had her handprint on every one of those. She’s started every game for us since she was a freshman, played in three regionals. I don’t know too many people that throughout their career at Wheelersburg who’s going to be able to say they accomplished what she has.”

Spradlin also spoke about his collective senior class — including Keeney, Mika Jones, Isabella Hamilton and Lyndsay Heimbach — and how they’ve grown during their time as members of the Lady Pirates program.

“Mika Jones, Isabella Hamilton, Lyndsay Heimbach, and Alaina Keeney — you couldn’t ask for a better group of seniors,” Spradlin said. “They’re mature and ready for the next chapter in their lives.”

Wheelersburg returns seven of the eight players who played in the regional semifinal loss, including four of five starters for the ‘22-23 season.

Fairland and Union Local will be back at Logan’s Jim Myers Gymnasium for the Region 11 Final — on Saturday, March 5 at 1 p.m.

***

BOX SCORE

Wheelersburg 8 12 10 15 — 45

Union Local 15 14 12 15 — 56

Wheelersburg (23-1) 45

Jocelyn Tilley 1 0-0 2, Madison Whittaker 4 0-0 11, Annie Coriell 0 0-0 0, Kiera Kennard 0 2-2 2, Alaina Keeney 4 0-0 10, Makenna Walker 1 0-0 2, Lexie Rucker 3 2-3 8, Macee Eaton 4 2-3 10; TOTALS: 17 6-8 45; Three-point field goals: 5 (Whittaker 3, Keeney 2)

Union Local (24-3) 56

Lauren Miller 0 1-2 1, Torre Kildow 4 1-6 9, Emily Kellaway 0 5-6 5, Hannah Merritt 5 2-2 16, Kiera Gregor 2 0-0 5, Reagan Vinskovich 8 4-6 20; TOTALS: 19 13-22 56; Three-point field goals: 5 (Merritt 4, Gregor 1)

Wheelersburg junior Madison Whittaker (5) scored a team-high 11 points in Wednesday’s Division III, Region 11 semifinal against Belmont Union Local.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_Madison-Whitaker-_-Burg-4.jpgWheelersburg junior Madison Whittaker (5) scored a team-high 11 points in Wednesday’s Division III, Region 11 semifinal against Belmont Union Local. Courtesy of Tim Gearhart
Union Local leads wire-to-wire to advance to Region 11 Final

By Jacob Smith

[email protected]