Prep for winter begins in the summer –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
One of the most common phrases heard in the sports world is that “players are made in the offseason.” That has become increasingly true for the sport of high school basketball as it has become more of a year-round sport. Evidence of that came to West Union High School last Monday night as three of the county’s girls varsity basketball squads met on the first night of a Summer League that continues for the next three Mondays.
The host Lady Dragons welcomed to town the North Adams Lady Devils and the Manchester Lady Hounds as all three teams got to play two games that consisted of two 20-minute halves with a running clock. Even though it was just summer ball, there is always an extra added incentive when the opponent is a county rival and the first match up of the night saw Coach J.R. Kirker and the Lady Dragons facing North Adams and Coach Rob Davis.
For Coach Davis, it was a mix and match night as he was missing some of his varsity regulars, who were playing in a summer volleyball league. The Lady Dragons had most of their regulars on hand and the two teams turned in an entertaining summer affair.
Late in the first half, a three-pointer by West Union’s Harley Silvia gave West Union a 17-13 lead, but a bucket at the buzzer by the Lady Devils’ Lakyn Hupp tied the game at 19 at the break.
A three by North Adams’ Madee Shipley was part of a 7-0 Lady Devils run to start the second half, but the Lady Dragons answered with seven straight of their own, keyed by five points from Jaycee Baldwin. Three quick points by Marah Call gave the advantage back to North Adams and a Hupp steal ended a 6-0 run that put her side up 35-28. A MacKenzie Bickett steal and score turned out to be the final points of the game for West Union as North Adams tallied the last four to claim a 39-30 win.
There was no rest for the weary as the Lady Devils came right back to the floor to face Manchester in the second game of the evening. Coach Vohn Hoop’s Lady Hounds will be a mix of last year’s varsity players and a much-anticipated group of freshmen, but not all of either group were on hand Monday.
The first 20 minutes of this contest was a lot of freshmen vs. freshmen and offense was at a premium, with the half ending in a 13-9 Manchester lead. With 13 minutes left to play, the Lady Hounds still held a one-point lead but Coach Davis dialed up some of the defensive pressure that his teams are known for and the Lady Devils capitalized on some turnovers to move in front 20-16.
A three-pointer by McKenzie Smith gave the lead back to Manchester, but an offensive putback by Call and a basket by Hupp made it 26-23 North Adams. After a Manchester miss, the Lady Devils regained possession and ran out the clock to take their second win of the night.
Game three saw the Lady Hounds stay on the floor to battle West Union and it was sure some home cooking for the Lady Dragons as they lit up the nets, especially from beyond the three-point arc. A flurry of three-pointers gave the Lady Dragons a 26-14 halftime lead and then in the second half the host squad went wild from long distance, drilling five more treys to extend their lead. The Lady Hounds got a pair of threes from freshman Emily Sweeney but when the final horn sounded, it was the Lady Dragons rolling to a 56-33 victory.
The Monday night league continues for all three teams with their schedule as follows:
Monday, June 19- West Union vs. Hillsboro/Fairfield (at Fairfield), Manchester vs. Lynchburg/Ripley (at Manchester), North Adams vs. Hillsboro/Fairfield (at Fairfield)
Monday, June 26- West Union vs. Blanchester/Ripley (at Hillsboro), North Adams vs. Western Brown/Lynchburg (at North Adams), Manchester vs. Fairfield/Whiteoak (at Whiteoak)