By Mark Carpenter –
Now standing at 5-3 on the season, Coach Billie Jo Justice and her Peebles Lady Indians split a pair of Southern Hills Athletic Conference contest in the past week, falling at home to the Fairfield Lady Lions on Dec. 14 and then getting a road win at Ripley on Monday night.
Peebles was paced on offense in both games by freshman Jacey Justice, who kept up her early season scoring prowess by firing in 22 against Fairfield and then following that up with a big 26-point effort at Ripley.
The Fairfield game was an early season showdown between the two teams expected to battle it out for the small school division crown in the SHAC and it didn’t disappoint as the two teams battled back and forth, but the Lady Lions had an answer for every Peebles attack and outlasted their hosts by a final count of 53-47.
“We had every opportunity in the world tonight,” said Coach Justice. “We had a lot of good looks and we just couldn’t hit any shots. It comes down to a gut check and all season we have battled and battled, but just had a hard time finishing. We are like an 80% team that can’t finish.”
“They can’t get upset and pout if you miss a shot, especially when we go back down to the defensive end. We didn’t move a lot against their zone.”
Though they kept the score close in the early going, the Lady Indians struggled to score against a sweeping 1-2-2 zone employed by Fairfield. A Justice three-pointer was matched by the same for the Lady Lions’ Ashley Sowards, giving Fairfield a 7-5 advantage. Baskets by Justice and McKinlee Ryan put Peebles back in front but four straight by the visitors flipped the scoreboard. The back and forth first period closed with a jumper by Justice that tied the game, then a basket by Fairfield’s Brianna Barnes that gave her team a 13-11 lead.
That lead quickly ballooned as the Lady Lions reeled off the first five points of the second quarter, getting two buckets from Grace Shope, before a Justice bucket with 5:08 left in the half trimmed the Fairfield lead to 18-13. After a Shope steal and score put the Lady Lions back up by seven, Peebles got back to back 3’s from Matti Nichols and Justice to pull within one and the first half ended when a score by Fairfield’s Blake Adams sent her team to the locker room nursing a slim 24-21 advantage.
Roaring out of the gates in the third period, the Lady Lions went on a 0-2 run, holding the home team to just a Nichols basket over a span of nearly six minutes. A stick back by Tatum Arey and then a later free throw by the Peebles sophomore drew the Lady Indians back to within 35-26 with just eight minutes to go.
The story for the final quarter was the home team trying their best to rally, while the visitors turned them away at every opportunity. Two free throws by Jerilin Toller and two more from Ryan cut the Fairfield lead to 39-34 with 3:39 to play and the remainder of the game turned into a parade to the free throw line, as the Lady Lions attempted 11 from the charity stripe over that span and the Lady Indians converted 12 of 14 freebies in the final quarter.
A three-pointer from deep in the corner by Ryan again drew the Lady Indians to within five at 45-40, but the Lady Lions, especially Shope who hit six free throws in the final period, held on down the stretch, keeping the Peebles girls at bay. The final basket of the game, too little, too late, came from Peebles’ Toller as the Lady Lions escaped Adams County with an important conference win by the final count of 53-47.
One of the finest all-around players in southeast Ohio, Shope led the winners with 22 points, joined in double figures by teammate Barnes, who scored 12. Justice’s 22 led Peebles, with Nichols adding 9 and Ryan 7.
13 11 11 18 –53
11 10 5 21 –47
Fairfield (53): Sowards 1 1-2 4, Shope 7 8-9 22, Cannon 2 1-2 5, Reiber 0 1-2 1, Adams 3 3-4 9, Barnes 6 0-0 12, Team 19 14-19 53.
Peebles (47): J. Justice 6 6-8 22, Ryan 2 2-2 7, Reed 0 2-2 2, Nichols 3 2-2 9, Toller 1 2-2 4, Arey 1 1-3 3, Team 13 15-19 47.
Fairfield (1): Sowards 1
Peebles (4): J. Justice 2, Ryan 1, Nichols 1
On Monday, Dec. 18, the Lady Indians traveled to Ripley and after five fire alarms and a malfunctioning scoreboard, left with a 43-25 conference victory.
In the win, Peebles led at every quarter break and had no trouble disposing of the Lady Jays and claiming their fifth win of the season, now 3-3 in the SHAC.
Jacey Justice’s big night of 26 points paced the winners, with Tatum Arey turning in a fine all-around floor game and chipping in 6 points. McKinlee Ryan added 5 to the successful effort.
The Lady Indians were on the road on Thursday, Dec, 21, traveling to CNE and then will be off until they open play in the 2017 McDonald’s Classic, matched up with North Adams on Dec. 29.
9 16 12 6 –43
4 9 8 4 –25
Peebles (43): Justice 9 8-10 26, Ryan 2 0-0 5, Reed 1 0-0 2, Nichols 0 0-2 2, Toller 2 0-0 4, Arey 2 4-4 6, Team 16 12-16 43.
Ripley (25): Kirk 2 2-3 7, Fisher 3 1-2 7, Daulton 3 0-2 6, Mitchell 1 0-0 3, Eichner 1 0-2 2, Team 10 3-9 25.
Peebles (1): Ryan 1
Ripley (2): Kirk 1, Mitchell 1