It was a tall order last Saturday night for Coach Rob Davis and his North Adams Lady Devils as they traveled back to Waverly High School to mix it up in the Division III district championship game. Davis was looking for his first district title in five tries, but waiting for the Lady Devils was a very tough task, the 24-0 and state-ranked Ironton Lady Devils.
After falling into a big first quarter hole as Ironton rode the offensive heroics of Division I college prospect Lexie Barrier, the Lady Devils played with the Lady Tigers the rest of the way but could never just get over that hump and saw their 2015-16 campaign come to a close as Ironton claimed the district crown with a 49-36 victory.
“Ironton is pretty good, just physical, quick, and athletic,” said Coach Davis in his post game radio interview. “Barrier is the real deal, but we kind of just let her have her way in the first quarter. We wanted to double her but we just lost her a few times. We focused on her but we knew they had other girls who could play.”
“We had a goal of 17 or less turnovers and I know we had more than that and we had a chance to make a run and we did, but then kind of lost our momentum. Their constant pressure just wears on you, just like what we do to teams in the season. We had some easy looks and we just didn’t get them, but we held our own and didn’t quit.”
The first two points of the game went to North Adams on a pair of Madison Jenkins free throws, but the next 12 went to Ironton, all courtesy of the smooth and talented Barrier. After an Avery Harper free throw made it 12-3, Barrier knocked down another bucket, giving her the first 14 points for the Lady Tigers. A later jumper by Staci Dinsmore made it 16-5 but Ironton’s Sydney Webb fired one in at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 13-point advantage.
In the second period, the job of the Lady Devils was to try and cut into the big Ironton lead before the halftime break. Two baskets in the paint by Avery Harper kept North Adams within 22-10 and a score by Jenkins and two Dinsmore free throws sent the Lady Devils to the intermission still holding hopes of the upset, trailing 28-17.
Looking back on the first few minutes of the third quarter, the Lady Devils could only kick themselves for missed chances and opportunities. After coming out of the locker room and getting two quick baskets from Jenkins, North Adams had all the momentum and the deficit down to single digits. Then came a number of missed easy shots and turnovers that could have made things very interesting, before Barrier hit an old-fashioned three-point play that put Ironton up 31-21.
Another nice 15-foot jumper by Jenkins cut the Ironton lead back to eight, but Barrier struck again with two free throws and a basket and when Webb drilled a three ball with 1:30 left in the third period, Ironton had pulled back ahead comfortably at 38-23. That was the final bucket of the third quarter and with just eight minutes of play left, the Lady Devils were down 15.
Early fourth quarter buckets by Harper and Dinsmore kept the margin at 15 but a three-pointer by Webb made it 45-27 as hopes began to seriously dim for the green and gold. Grace McDowell drilled a three from the top of the key for the Lady Devils with 2:25 left and the rest of the North Adams scoring was handled by Dinsmore and Jenkins as the clock ran out on another successful year, but one that came to a close with Ironton moving on to the regional tournament with a 49-36 triumph.
The now 25-0 Lady Tigers were led in scoring by Lexie Barrier’s 27 points, 18 of those coming in the first half. Sydney Webb added 10 as Ironton moved to within two wins of the Division III Final Four.
For North Adams, two girls hit double figures in the loss, with Staci Dinsmore and Madison Jenkins each tallying 13 points. Avery Harper added 7 as the Lady Devils closed their season with a final record of 18-6. The loss also marked the end of the high school careers for Staci Dinsmore and Taylor Wylie, the lone seniors on the North Adams roster, as the Lady Devils will have a plethora of talent returning for 2016-17.
“These kids drive you nuts sometime and we met some of our goals,”said Coach Davis. “We just have to keep working and we will get this district title. We’re fairly young with lots coming back and we just have to keep working and getting better.”
“Taylor is such a scrappy player and Staci is one heckuva player and athlete and we love them both and will miss them.”
NAHS 5 12 6 13 —36
IHS 18 10 10 11 —49
NAHS (36): Dinsmore 3 7-8 13, McDowell 1 0-0 3, Jenkins 5 3-4 13, Harper 3 1-2 7, Team 12 11-14 36.
IHS (49): Hannah 1 0-0 2, Wise 3 0-0 6, Lee 1 0-0 2, Barrier 10 7-12 27, Webb 4 0-0 10, Scott 0 2-4 2, Team 19 9-16 49.
NAHS- McDowell 1
IHS- Webb 2