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Lady Devils get Classic three-peat, make it 10 of 11, 14 titles for Coach Davis

This was an all too familiar sight for the Peebles Lady Indians and their fans last Friday night as North Adams’ Avery Harper, left, gets the ball in the paint and looks to score. Score she did as Harper tallied 18 points as the Lady Devils captured their third consecutive McDonald’s Classic title, topping Peebles in the title contest 43-32.

North Adams tops Peebles 43-32 for 2016 crown –

Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –

For North Adams head coach Rob Davis, it has become nearly a yearly tradition.  For the 14th  time in his illustrious career leading the Lady Devils, and the 10th time in the past 11 seasons, Davis and his team were crowned champions of the McDonald’s Classic, this year held on the hardwood of Peebles High School.  To garner that 14th title, Davis and the Lady Devils had to go through the host team, the Peebles Lady Indians, in the Dec. 30 championship game.
The Friday night championship game was the first meeting of the season for the two county rivals and featured two teams with contrasting offensive styles, the Lady Devils with their size and inside-out game and the perimeter-oriented Lady Indians.  In the end, it was the size in the paint and the usual pressure defense of North Adams that forced 32 Peebles turnovers and helped the Lady Devils to their third consecutive Classic championship with a 43-32 victory.
“We started slow with a bunch of turnovers, but luckily we picked it up a little bit,” said Coach Davis after the win.  “We got up by 15 and looked ready to bury them, and then we just went flat and our intensity went away.  We had to pick it back up after halftime because we really didn’t shoot the ball well tonight.”
“Peebles packed the zone in against us and we weren’t as patient as we needed to be at times.  When we were patient, we got good looks, but again we just didn’t shoot it well enough.  We needed to make good decisions and run the clock when we had a lead.”
“It’s still a big deal to win this tournament,” Davis continued.  “The kids love it and some big crowds come out here to watch some good basketball.”

Always present is the swarming defense of the North Adams Lady Devils and it was there in the Friday night Classic championship game. Here, four Lady Devils’ defenders are within striking distance of Peebles’ Baylee Justice as she attempts to reverse the ball out of trouble on the offensive end.

The game actually started well for the Lady Indians as baskets by McKinlee Ryan and Jerilin Toller gave them a quick 4-0 lead, but a three-point goal by Grace McDowell got North Adams on the board and began a 9-2 run for the Lady Devils that put them on top 9-6.  A three by Peebles’ Jessica Sowards tied the game but North Adams went inside to Avery Harper for the final five points of the first period to lead 14-9.
That 5-0 run extended to 15-0 in the first two minutes of the second quarter, as Peebles had no answer for the high-low North Adams offense that resulted in six more points for Harper.  When the Lady Devils’ press converted a turnover into a Lakyn Hupp basket, North Adams had a double digit advantage at 24-9 halfway through the middle stanza.

The Peebles Lady Indians were the runners-up in the 2016 McDonald’s Classic varsity girls tournament, falling to North Adams 43-32 in the Dec. 30 championship game.

The Lady Indians finally regained their composure and reeled off eight straight of their own, with Baylee Justice draining a three and Sowards hitting a jumper and getting a bucket “and one.”  North Adams then finished the first half on a 6-2 run, getting a short jumper in the lane from Caitlin Young and then two scores from Hupp to take a 30-19 lead into the locker room.
After the break, the Lady Indians began the third quarter just as they had the first, getting baskets on their first two possessions, this time from Toller and Matti Nichols to pull within seven, but as they had all evening, the girls from North Adams had an answer, inside to Harper, a steal and score from Taylor Hesler, two Hupp free throws, and a basket from Madison Jenkins to put them up 38-25.
The Lady Indians weren’t going away, breaking a three-minute scoring drought and getting two foul shots from Sowards and a Toller basket to end the third quarter back within single digits at 38-29.
The final eight minutes of this title tilt will not be seen on any future offensive instructional videos, as the two sided combined for just eight points and not much changed on the scoreboard.  The Lady Devils got a basket from McDowell on their first possession and then didn’t score again until there was just 1:15 left in the game when Harper grabbed a lob on an out-of-bounds play and turned it into a three-point trip.  Sandwiched in between all the Lady Indians could muster was a bucket by Nichols on their opening possession and then a Toller free throw six minutes later.  When all was said and done, the young ladies from North Adams and their large fan base were the ones celebrating, as their team hoisted the Classic championship trophy by virtue of their 43-32 triumph.

Here is the 2016 McDonald’s Classic Girls All-Tournament Team. From left, Jessica Sowards (Peebles), Jerilin Toller (Peebles), Avery Harper (North Adams), Most Valuable Player Lakyn Hupp (North Adams), and C.J. Hobbs (Manchester). Absent from the photo was Jaycee Baldwin (West Union).

In the “W”, the Lady Devils were led in scoring by Avery Harper, who tallied 18 points that included a 6 for 8 performance from the foul line.  Lakyn Hupp added 10, with Madison Jenkins chipping in with 6 and Grace McDowell with 5.
“Lakyn played two good games in the tournament, you see her out there sliding and diving,”said Coach Davis.  “Avery got in a little bit of foul trouble but she played really well around the basket for us.”
“We have to play them again in a couple of weeks so we better come ready to play.”
In the loss, Peebles placed a pair of players in double figures, with Kaitlin Toller leading the way with 13 and Jessica Sowards adding 12.
The win improves the Lady Devils to 7-3on the season and they will be back in action on Jan. 5 when they host the Fayetteville Lady Rockets in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play.  Peebles drops to 7-4 and will be back on the court on Jan. 4, hosting CNE in non-conference action.
After Friday’s championship game, the McDonald’s Classic All-Tournament Team was named and included Hupp and Harper from North Adams.  Hupp was named the Classic Most Valuable Player and for Harper, it was her second consecutive berth on the All-Tourney squad.  From Peebles, Sowards made her third straight All-Tournament Team and was joined by teammate Jerilin Toller.  Rounding out the honorees were Jaycee Baldwin from West Union and Manchester’s C.J. Hobbs.

N. Adams
14  16  8  5  –43
Peebles
9  10  10  3 –32
N. Adams (43): Hesler 1 0-0 2, Toole 0 0-1 0, Hupp 4 2-2 10, Young 1 0-0 2, McDowell 2 0-0 5, Jenkins 2 2-2 6, Harper 6 6-8 18, Team 16 10-13 43.
Peebles (32): Nichols 1 0-0 2, Ryan 1 0-0 2, Sowards 3 5-5 12, Toller 5 3-5 13, Justice 1 0-0 3, Team 11 8-10 32.
Three-Point Goals:
N. Adams (1): McDowell 1
Peebles (2): Sowards 1, Justice 1

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