FRANKFORT — The McClain Lady Tigers and Miami Trace Lady Panthers met for the third time this season, this time for a Division II Sectional championship at Adena High School Saturday afternoon.
The teams had divided the regular season series, each winning on their home floor.
Saturday it was Miami Trace, using a smothering defense, who came away with a 41-21 victory over McClain.
Miami Trace improves to 16-7 and will play Vinton County in the District semifinals Thursday at Southeastern High School at 6:15 p.m. Vinton County, a No. 1 seed, defeated River Valley Saturday, 62-31.
Junior Shay McDonald was the game’s leading scorer with 19 points. She hit three of Miami Trace’s six three-point field goals.
Sophomore Delaney Eakins was key off the bench with eight points for Miami Trace.
Senior Cassidy Lovett scored five, while seniors Olivia Wolffe and Becca Ratliff and sophomore Gracee Stewart each added three points.
Wolffe led Miami Trace with seven rebounds (three offensive). Eakins had four rebounds and Lovett had a team-high five assists.
McClain (13-9) was led by Kyla Burchett with six points.
Senior Liz Kegley and sophomore Jaelyn Pitzer both scored four points, sophomore Emma Stegbauer scored three and seniors Kelli Uhrig and Bryn Karnes each had two points.
Miami Trace’s defense made things difficult for McClain, holding the Lady Tigers to single digits in scoring in all four quarters.
“I thought our defense, for about 16 straight minutes, was as good as it’s been all year,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. He was likely referring to the second and third quarters, in which the Lady Panthers held McClain to four points and two points, respectively.
“McClain is a quality team,” Ackley said. “It’s the third time we’ve played them; there are no secrets. Our guards applying pressure was our number one goal coming in. I thought that was our biggest advantage. And we made some timely shots. As we saw the ball fall, we became more confident. Then, our defense became better and better.
“We’re just very proud of this group,” Ackley said. “This is the fifth straight year that we have won a championship, either a league or a Sectional, something. We’re a championship program and we pride ourselves on championships. Now this group gets to put 2019 right there.
“They’ve earned it,” Ackley said. “They’ve really done a good job of buying in. They’re playing their best basketball at the absolute best time.
“I’m very proud of all of our kids,” Ackley said. “We played 14 kids today and that’s always exciting, to see everyone get to play and be a part of it because they’ve worked so hard.”
Miami Trace led 11-7 at the end of the first quarter and 24-11 at the half. At the end of the three quarters of play, the Lady Panthers held a 35-13 lead.
“We had a really good game plan in front of us,” McClain head coach Jarrod Haines said. “We didn’t execute really one ounce of that. It’s just one of those things. I told them, ‘in life some times, it’s just not going to go your way. You have to get up the next day, put your shoes on and forget about it, just work harder and try to get better.’
“This game is not going to define what our seniors have brought to our program and what they’ve stood for,” Haines said. “Miami Trace, hats off to them. Their pressure bothered us and they shot the ball well. We just didn’t respond very well, getting down a little bit, but it happens.
“I’m super proud of my kids,” Haines said. “They are definitely a great group of kids to be around and raise your children around.”
Haines spoke about his five seniors.
“Bryn Karnes has had a monster year, improved tremendously from a year ago,” Haines said. “Gave us that post presence that we haven’t had in the last couple of years. She took seven or eight charges this year. A super-smart kid and fun to be around.
“Kelli Uhrig is just a great kid, too,” Haines said. “She an extremely gifted athlete who’s going to play soccer at the next level. She really stepped up for us, especially when Maddy (Stegbauer) went out.
“Macie Adams, I’m going to miss looking at her at pre-games and seeing her tear-up and cry,” Haines said. “She’s a great, great kid. It’s really true of all five of my seniors, but, man, I hope my daughter can grow up to be like Macie. She never complains. She is your model teammate.
“Liz (Kegley) is smart,” Haines said. “She’s going to be a bio-medical engineer, something crazy. She’s super strong. These seniors really dedicated to the weight room and the gym and got better.
“Maddy (Stegbauer), unfortunately, her season ended way too early,” Haines said. “She made us go. She made us a very good basketball. The things that she did on the floor, you can’t replace it. You can’t replace what Maddy Stegbauer is. It’s awesome the way she’s bouncing back, in full recovery mode. She wants to play at the next level.
“Just a great senior group, great role models for our underclassmen to learn from,” Haines said.
In other Division II girls Sectional championship games played Saturday, Circleville defeated Chillicothe, 45-28 and Fairfield Union advanced past Warren, 38-30.
The Lady Panthers will play at Ross Southeastern High School on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 6:15 p.m. Tickets will be on sale in the Main Office of the new Miami Trace High School from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week. Tickets are $6. The school gets to keep a portion of the proceeds from the tickets it sells.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 11 13 11 6 — 41
Mc 7 4 2 8 — 21
MIAMI TRACE — Olivia Wolffe 1-1-3; Cassidy Lovett 1 (1)-0-5; Becca Ratliff 0 (1)-0-3; Aubrey McCoy 0-0-0; Shay McDonald 4 (3)-2-19; Tori Evans 0-0-0; Magarah Bloom 0-0-0; Libby Aleshire 0-0-0; Reagan Barton 0-0-0; Aubrey Wood 0-0-0; Gracee Stewart 0 (1)-0-3; Emma Pitstick 0-0-0; Lena Steele 0-0-0; Delaney Eakins 4-0-8. TOTALS — 10 (6)-3-41. Free throw shooting: 3 of 10 for 30 percent. Three-point field goals: McDonald, 3; Lovett, Ratliff, Stewart. Field goal shooting: 16 of 42 for 38 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 6 of 18 for 33 percent. Rebounds: 19 (8 offensive). Turnovers: 12. Assists: 7. Steals: 9. Fouls: 11
McCLAIN — Cierra Bolendar 0-0-0; Brianna Weller 0-0-0; Jaelyn Pitzer 0 (1)-1-4; Macie Adams 0-0-0; Kelli Uhrig 1-0-2; Kyla Burchett 3-0-6; Bryn Karns 0-2-2; Liz Kegley 1-2-4; Emma Stegbauer 1-1-3. TOTALS — 6 (1)-6-21. Free throw shooting: 6 of 10 for 60 percent. Three-point field goal: Pitzer. Field goal shooting: 7 of 26 for 27 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 1 of 4 for 25 percent. Turnovers: 23. Offensive rebounds: 8.