JACKSON — There was one match-up in the Division II Sectional tournament featuring Frontier Athletic Conference teams going head-to-head for a third meeting of the season and that was the No. 12 seed Miami Trace playing at No. 5 seed Jackson Monday, Feb. 14.
The two teams split the regular season series, both winning on their respective home courts, both games being decided by three points.
Miami Trace won 42-39 on Dec. 1 and Jackson won on Jan. 12, 48-45 in overtime.
Miami Trace had the kind of start it might have hoped for Monday, leading by nine points with about 1:30 to play in the first half.
A late surge by Jackson, which carried over into the second half, propelled the Ironladies to a 54-37 victory.
Jackson will next meet Vinton County — the No. 4 seed that beat the No. 13 seed McClain, 48-33 Monday — in the District semifinals Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Southeastern High School. That starting time is approximate because the District tournament tips off Saturday at 1 p.m. when Sheridan takes on Meigs.
The game was tied, 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Miami Trace ended the first half up by five points.
Jackson saved its best play for the second half, outscoring Miami Trace 19-6 in the third quarter for a 40-32 lead.
A 14-5 fourth quarter secured the victory for Jackson.
Junior Hillery ‘Bean’ Jacobs led Miami Trace in scoring with nine points and in rebounds with five.
Jacobs shared the team lead in assists (three) with junior Hillary McCoy, who, in addition to her eight points, tied two other teammates with four rebounds.
Junior Kaelin Pfeifer scored eight points, junior Mallory Lovett had five points and four rebounds and senior Libby Aleshire scored four points and grabbed four rebounds.
Sophomore Jessee Stewart hit one three-point basket for three points and assisted on three other scores.
“We really executed the stuff we had worked on for the last three days,” Miami Trace head coach Kayla Dettwiller said. “We passed the ball well, we were moving into space. I think almost every bucket we scored in the first half was an assisted bucket.”
The Lady Panthers knew what likely to expect from Jackson on the offensive side.
“In the first half we did a nice job of keeping them pushed out of the paint,” Dettwiller said. “They hit a couple of big buckets, including a three right at end of the first quarter to tie it up.
“The Davis girl had a great rebound that she threw back to the foul line and Walburn caught it right at her forehead and released (a shot) as soon as it touched her hands and that thing was like a knife cutting through butter going right through the net.”
Jackson was led in scoring by a trio of sophomores.
T.J. Carpenter scored 19 points, Mattie Walburn scored 15 and Kenzie Davis scored nine.
“Walburn played well and shot the ball very well,” Dettwiller said. “Coming into the second half, Carpenter decided she was going to take the game over. She started asking for the ball more and she started getting down hill. She’s long and lanky and can score inside and outside.
“She decided she was taking it to the rack and if she missed that shot, the opportunity for her to get the rebound is high because she’s taller than most kids,” Dettwiller said.
It was the final game for a quartet of Miami Trace seniors: Libby Aleshire, Mallory Pavey, Sidney Payton and Emma Pitstick who was sidelined all season.
“These seniors have been with me since they were freshmen,” Dettwiller said. “They were all a part of the j-v team as freshmen. They are definitely a gritty group. They come in, they work hard, they push each other.
“With Pavey, she didn’t play last year,” Dettwiller said. “She had some knee issues coming out of her sophomore year. She came back this year and gave us a lot of defensive intensity.
“In our first game with Hillsboro, she was a difference-maker,” Dettwiller said. “She did a nice job of spotting up on Gracie Dean and limiting her and getting her sped up. Those (defensive attributes) were things that we knew she was going to be able to provide for us.
“With Sidney, she began the year in a boot,” Dettwiller said. “She was limited there early in the season. She brings a lot of energy to practices. She’s a strong kid, too. There aren’t many kids who are going to rip the ball away from her.
“We were able to use her in multiple spots this year,” Dettwiller said. “Some times she would be guarding a wing, then, three possessions later, we make a substitution and she’s guarding the second-tallest kid on the floor because we knew she was strong enough to push her around.
“Libby is kind of one of those kids who does a lot of stuff for us that doesn’t always make the stat sheet,” Dettwiller said. “On defense, she’s always tasked with (guarding) the post player.” Many times those players are taller than Aleshire.
“A lot of nights she understands that she has to be physical in there,” Dettwiller said. “She’s done a great job for three years at the varsity level. We’re going to miss her on that inside post defense. She would find ways to neutralize some of those taller opponents.”
Life is full of setbacks and Emma Pitstick unfortunately had to miss playing her entire senior season, except for starting the home game against McClain and then getting to sink two free throws late in that game.
“She puts the time and she puts the effort in,” Dettwiller said. “I just can’t say enough about that kid. Going into your senior year injured, knowing you’re probably not going to get on the floor, you’re not going to be released. She didn’t miss anything, except when she had a therapy session.
“She never missed a practice,” Dettwiller said. “She was always engaged. I think this season was huge for her going on to play the next two seasons in college. She’s going to be playing at Black Hawk College in Illinois.”
Miami Trace ended the 2021-22 season with an overall record of 8-14. The Lady Panthers finished in a three-way tie for second place in the Frontier Athletic Conference with Hillsboro and Chillicothe, all at 6-4.
Jackson won the FAC with a record of 8-2. McClain went 4-6 and Washington finished 0-10.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 14 12 6 5 — 37
J 14 7 19 14 — 54
MIAMI TRACE — Kaelin Pfeifer 4-0-8; Hillary McCoy 3-2-8; Jessee Stewart 0 (1)-0-3; Libby Aleshire 2-0-4; Mallory Pavey 0-0-0; Sidney Payton 0-0-0; Mallory Lovett 2-1-5; Hillery Jacobs 3 (1)-0-9; Sue Morris 0-0-0. TOTALS — 14 (2)-3-37. Free throw shooting: 3 of 6 for 50 percent. Three-point field goals: Stewart, Jacobs. Field goal shooting: 16 of 37 for 43 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 2 of 9 for 22 percent. Rebounds: 20 (4 offensive). Assists: 12. Steals: 3. Turnovers: 14.
JACKSON — Sophia Metzler 0-0-0; Rylie Kilgour 0-0-0; Katelyn Webb 0 (2)-1-7; Olivia Kennedy 0-0-0; T.J. Carpenter 6-7-19; Mattie Walburn 6 (1)-0-15; Nevaeh Easley 0-0-0; Sydney Hughes 1-0-2; Kenzie Davis 2 (1)-2-9. TOTALS — 16 (4)-10-54. Free throw shooting: 10 of 13 for 77 percent. Three-point field goals: Webb, 2; Walburn, Davis. Field goal shooting: 20 of 48 for 42 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 4 of 7 for 57 percent. Offensive rebounds: 15. Turnovers: 11.
Stats were again provided all season by Karl Kellenberger. Kellenberger just completed his 21st season keeping the score book for Miami Trace High School girls basketball. He has been working with Miami Trace for a total of 24 years, the first three as a coach in the Miami Trace Little Lady Panthers youth basketball program.