It was a battle for first place in the Frontier Athletic Conference Thursday night when the McClain Lady Tigers visited Miami Trace High School to take on the Lady Panthers.
Both teams entered the game with a conference record of 7-1.
Back on Dec. 11, McClain defeated Miami Trace, 33-30.
Last night, it was Miami Trace emerging from a tough battle in front of a very large crowd, 57-48.
With the win, Miami Trace (now 16-5 overall) clinches at least a share of the FAC championship.
The league outcome will be decided in its entirety Saturday when Miami Trace plays at Washington High School and McClain (now 14-6) plays at Hillsboro.
One day after surpassing the 1,000-point mark for her career, Miami Trace senior Shay McDonald led her team with 14 points. McDonald also led the Lady Panthers with seven rebounds. She also had four assists.
Junior Magarah Bloom scored 11 points and had six rebounds.
Freshman Hillery Jacobs scored 10 points and junior Delaney Eakins scored nine.
For McClain, the game’s leading scorer was junior Kyla Burchett with 16 points. She hit three of her team’s six three-point field goals.
Junior Brianna Weller scored 15 points and freshman Payton Pryor had 11 points.
In the end, it came down to free throw shooting.
Miami Trace made 21 of 24 shots from the line for 88 percent.
McClain was 2 for 4 from the free throw line.
From the field, Miami Trace made 17 of 39 shots for 44 percent. McClain made 20 of 52 shots for 38 percent.
“We looked completely exhausted the last 12 minutes,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “We just had to gut it out. I couldn’t be any more proud of this whole group. It was a group effort tonight.
“Bean (Hillery) Jacobs and Gracey Ferguson, the first time we played McClain, they were freshmen,” Ackley said. “Tonight they didn’t play like freshmen. They made plays.
“On defense, we had lapses,” Ackley said. “We stood. They did the best job I’ve seen all year against the 2-3 (zone). We played it a lot because we were a little tired and Pryor is such a bear underneath.
“We made enough plays and we gave Shay enough support,” Ackley said. “When they went to the box-and-one, I thought that opened some other kids up for us and we took advantage. We have other kids who can do certain things off the dribble and they showed that tonight.”
“We showed a lot of grit and played extremely hard,” McClain head coach Jarrod Haines said. “I thought Kyla had a really good offensive game as far as shooting the basketball from the perimeter.
“Bri is just a workhorse,” Haines said. “We’re calling her number a lot and I thought she did a great job for us. Payton had most of her points in the fourth quarter, being in foul trouble. The freshman attacking like that, I was super-pleased and happy for her.
“Defensively, I thought Emma (Stegbauer, a junior) did a great job on McDonald,” Haines said. “I’m proud of my kids’ effort. They dug deep. They played extremely hard and now we just have to turn the page and continue to get better.”
Miami Trace led by as many as five points in the opening period.
McClain scored at the buzzer to make it a 13-10 game, Miami Trace, after one.
As the second quarter unfolded, it was something of a stand-off, with McClain in a zone defense and McDonald simply holding the ball, burning a couple of minutes off the clock.
No points were scored until Burchett hit a three with four minutes to play in the half, tying the game.
McClain did not take the lead, but was as close as one point with 3:06 to go in the half.
Eakins, Bloom and sophomore Libby Aleshire scored to give Miami Trace a 26-17 halftime lead.
Miami Trace twice led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, while McClain was able to pull to within four, 34-30 with 1:12 left in the third quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Miami Trace led, 38-30.
The fourth quarter was the highest-scoring period for both teams.
McClain got to within six points of Miami Trace twice in the final stanza, including with about one minute to play.
Miami Trace made 13 of 16 free throws in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory, 57-48.
This is the sixth championship (either co or outright, either SCOL or FAC) in Ackley’s eight years at Miami Trace and the fourth in the last five seasons.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” Ackley said. “Man, we’re not always pretty to watch, but these kids have guts. They played (very hard) tonight, for sure.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 13 13 12 19 — 57
Mc 10 7 13 18 — 48
MIAMI TRACE — Aubrey McCoy 0-1-1; Shay McDonald 4-6-14; Magarah Bloom 2 (1)-4-11; Libby Aleshire 3-2-8; Gracey Ferguson 2-0-4; Hillery Jacobs 1 (1)-5-10; Emma Pitstick 0-0-0; Delaney Eakins 3-3-9. TOTALS — 15 (2)-21-57. Free throw shooting: 21 of 24 for 88 percent. Three-point field goals: Bloom, Jacobs. Field goal shooting: 17 of 39 for 44 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 2 of 10 for 20 percent. Rebounds: 29 (8 offensive). Turnovers: 16. Assists: 10. Steals: 9.
McCLAIN — Cierra Bolender 0-0-0; Brianna Weller 6 (1)-0-15; Payton Pryor 5-1-11; Josie Crabtree 0 (2)-0-6; Kyle Burchett 3 (3)-1-16; Emma Stegbauer 0-0-0. TOTALS — 14 (6)-2-48. Free throw shooting: 2 of 4 for 50 percent. Three-point field goals: Burchett, 3; Crabtree, 2; Weller. Field goal shooting: 20 of 52 for 38 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 6 of 21 for 29 percent. Turnovers: 16. Offensive rebounds: 8.