The Miami Trace Lady Panthers were looking to clinch at least a share of the Frontier Athletic Conference title as they welcomed the Lady Blue Lions of Washington High School for games Saturday afternoon, Feb. 6.
The Lady Panthers came away with the win, 45-31 and with the victory are guaranteed at least a co-championship.
Miami Trace can claim the outright conference championship with a win at Hillsboro Thursday night.
Washington junior Jeleeya Smith was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points.
Sophomore Allie Mongold scored seven, senior Emily Semler had five, junior Aaralyne Estep scored three and senior Mallory Hicks scored two.
Semler, Mongold and Estep each made one three-point field goal for Washington.
Eight different players scored for Miami Trace, led by sophomores Hillery Jacobs and Gracey Ferguson, each with eight points. Ferguson led her team with six rebounds.
Senior Magarah Bloom and junior Emma Pitstick each had seven points for the Lady Panthers. Bloom had five rebounds and a team-high five steals.
Senior Gracee Stewart hit two threes for six points, junior Libby Aleshire had four points, senior Delaney Eakins scored three and junior Sidney Payton scored two.
Senior Addison Little played for the first time this season for Miami Trace, coming back from an injury.
The Lady Panthers led 11-3 at the end of the first quarter.
By the end of the first half, Miami Trace had increased its lead to 14 (26-12).
The Lady Lions made inroads in the third quarter, climbing back to within four points (29-25) with 3:25 remaining in the period.
Miami Trace held a 34-29 lead after three quarters of play.
The Lady Panthers outscored Washington 11-2 in the fourth quarter for the 45-31 final score.
“I thought our kids responded well,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “We have not done a very good job this year when we’ve had big leads. It’s like we get a little loose with the basketball, our shot selection gets a little worse and our rotations and stuff are a step slow.
“It’s kind of sad and surreal to come in today and know who you are playing and see so many bleachers,” Ackley said. “This time a year ago and when we went in there, it was filled. Since they’ve gone to the all-day deal, it’s been such a great experience for these kids to be a part of that.
“Both teams played really hard for 32 minutes,” Ackley said. “You could tell (the game) meant a lot to both groups.
“We clinched a share of the league title today, which, we’re very happy about,” Ackley said. “Addison Little has been in the program since youth. She’s coming off an ACL (injury). Addy just got released the other day. We wanted to get her a couple of minutes at the beginning of the game.
“She’s going to Montana State,” Ackley said. “She can’t wait to go. She’s going to major in engineering and follow in her father’s footsteps.
“Delaney Eakins has started for us for three years,” Ackley said. “She’s a great post player. If I’m right, she’ll have her Associate’s Degree before she receives her high school diploma. I believe she’s going to Heidelberg.
“Magarah Bloom moved in before her freshman year,” Ackley said. “I could go on and on about Magarah’s character. She always has a smile on her face. Her and Delaney were First Team, all-league players last year and now they’ve been a part of back-to-back league championships. Hopefully, they’ll be a part of three Sectional championships.
“Gracee Stewart tore her ACL last fall,” Ackley said. “It was about five or six weeks before the season was to start. She’s a great young lady, very good in the classroom. I think she wants to go to Oklahoma State.”
“We were down one of our starters this evening (Megan Sever),” Washington head coach Samantha Bihl said. “That really hurt us. It was unfortunate she couldn’t play. We missed her out on the court. The kids that we had, I knew they were going to play hard. I’m really proud of them.
“In the second half they came out and responded,” Bihl said. “We made a run. I believe we scored 17 points in the third quarter, which is huge for us. I think we just ran out of gas at the end. We’ve been playing with five or six kids most of the season. It’s been tough.”
Washington finishes the 2020-21 FAC season at 3-7. They are 4-13 overall and are scheduled to play at Zane Trace Thursday.
The Lady Lions will host Chillicothe in the Sectional tournament Monday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.
Miami Trace (8-1 in the FAC, 11-5 overall) will host Unioto in the Sectional tournament Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
Ackley is in his ninth season as head coach of the Lady Panthers.
In that time, Miami Trace has won seven league championships, five of them being outright, pending the result of the game against Hillsboro on Thursday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 11 15 8 11 — 45
W 3 9 17 2 — 31
MIAMI TRACE — Jessee Stewart 0-0-0; Gracee Stewart 0 (2)-0-6; Magarah Bloom 2-3-7; Libby Aleshire 2-0-4; Gracey Ferguson 4-0-8; Sidney Payton 1-0-2; Hillery Jacobs 1 (1)-3-8; Emma Pitstick 1-5-7; Delaney Eakins 1-1-3; Addison Little 0-0-0. TOTALS — 12 (3)-12-45. Free throw shooting: 12 of 18 for 67 percent. Three-point field goals: G. Stewart, 2; Jacobs. Field goal shooting: 15 of 39 for 38 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 6 for 50 percent. Rebounds: 25 (5 offensive). Turnovers: 15. Assists: 6. Steals: 7. Blocked shots: 2. Fouls: 13.
WASHINGTON — Emily Semler 0 (1)-2-5; Aaralyne Estep 0 (1)-0-3; Allie Mongold 2 (1)-0-7; Mallory Hicks 1-0-2; Alizae Ryan 0-0-0; Calliegh Wead-Salmi 0-0-0; Jeleeya Smith 6-2-14. TOTALS — 9 (3)-4-31. Free throw shooting: 4 of 6 for 67 percent. Three-point field goals: Semler, Estep, Mongold. Field goal shooting: 12 of 37 for 32 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 10 for 30 percent. Turnovers: 21. Offensive rebounds: 6.
Stats by Karl Kellenberger