By Mark Carpenter
One of the semi-final match ups in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference 8th Grade Girls Tournament was a very familiar one as for the third time this season the North Adams Lady Devils faced off with the Peebles Lady Indians. This time a trip to the tournament championship game was on the line as the two teams met on the home floor of the Lady Devils last Thursday evening.
As games between county rivals tend to be, this was a close one throughout before the Lady Devils pulled away in the final quarter on their way to posting a 31-20 victory, a three-game sweep over their county rival, and a berth in the SHAC Tournament title game.
“Not being able to practice for three days leading up to this game showed early,” said North Adams head coach Tony Williams. “We were not crisp like we had been the previous couple of game, but we kept battling.”
“I thought we did a really good job in our half court defense the entire game. We always stress defense and rebounding and tonight it helped us pull out a victory over a very nice Peebles team.”
The game started well for the Lady Indians as they got a bucket from Shelby Conley on their first possession and a free throw from Matti Nichols on their second to lead 3-1. Unfortunately for the visitors, those were the only points they could muster in the opening six minutes as the final six of the period belonged to the Lady Devils. A basket by Avery Harper was followed by a Lakyn Hupp free throw and the quarter ended with Madee Shipley drilling a “3” from the corner to give North Adams a 7-3 advantage.
As they had in the first quarter, the Lady Indians scored on their opening possession of the second stanza on a basket by McKinlee Ryan. North Adams answered with another Harper score on the inside but Peebles responded by getting past the Lady Devils’ press for an easy layup from Katelyn Willey. Before the first half came to a close, North Adams got two baskets from Shipley to go to the intermission with a 13-9 lead.
The trend of teams scoring on their first possessions continued in the third quarter but this time it was the Lady Devils getting a long three-pointer out of the corner from Hupp to stretch their lead to seven points. Peebles battled back with two Ryan free throws and a bucket by Willey before a two-pointer by Hupp kept the Lady Devils lead at 19-13.
Shipley grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in with 50 seconds left in the third quarter that made it 21-14 and Harper hit a jumper from the elbow to give North Adams its biggest lead of the game. Peebles grabbed back some of the momentum when Baylee Justice made her way through the defense for a layup at the buzzer and the two sides headed to the final frame with North Adams up 23-16.
The fourth quarter began with a scoreless drought on both sides, over two minutes without the scoreboard changing. Willey hit a pair of foul shots with 3:53 to go but 30 seconds later North Adams had an answer when Brooklyn Stout fired in a three from the left wing and a later Hupp free throw put the Lady Devils’ margin at 27-18 with 2:48 left.
Peebles got what turned out to be their final points of the night on a Conley basket and the Lady Indians began to foul to gain possessions for a possible comeback. The Lady Devils cooperated by missing eight fourth quarter free throws but the Peebles offense could not capitalize on the opportunities. The home side finally found the range from the line and two from Hupp , plus singles from Shipley and Stout finished things off as the Lady Devils earned their spot in the championship game with a 31-20 triumph.
“We knew coming into the game that we would have to play extremely well to stay with North Adams,” said Peebles head coach Josh Ryan. “I thought we did a good job of that for three quarters then they hit a few outside shots that really hurt us.”
“We had a great season after a tough start when we really turned it on and started playing well. We had a great group of young ladies and I wish them all luck in their high school careers. Congratulations to Coach Williams and the Lady Devils.”
For the winners, who improved to 14-1 on the season, two girls reached double figures with Lakyn Hupp and Madee Shipley each getting 10 points. Avery Harper added 6 for the Lady Devils. North Adams was just 8 for 24 from the free throw line.
“It seems like every game someone has stepped up big for us when we needed them,” said Coach Williams. “Madee Shipley did that for us tonight. She really brought the defense and was able to get open against their zone for some open shots.”
“We must get better from the foul line. I will give the girls credit. They didn’t let our early troubles affect us and made a few when we needed them late.”
For Peebles (11-4), Shelby Conley and Katelyn Willey led the way with 6 points apiece, with McKinlee Ryan adding 4 and Baylee Justice 3. The Lady Indians also struggled from the charity stripe, hitting just 6 of 19 attempts.
The Lady Devils moved into the Saturday championship of the SHAC tournament where they faced an Eastern squad that handed them their only defeat of the season. (Look for a report on that game in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender).
“Looking ahead to the finals, with us and Eastern being comparable teams, all of the little things must come together for us to win the title,” added Coach Williams. “Free throw shooting could make or break us in that game.”
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
3 6 7 4 —20
7 6 10 8 —31
Peebles (20): Ryan 1 2-6 4, Justice 1 1-2 3, Conley 3 0-1 6, Nichols 0 1-8 1, Willey 2 2-2 6, Team 7 6-19 20.
N. Adams (31): Wright 0 0-3 0, Stout 1 1-3 4, Shipley 4 1-3 10, Hupp 2 5-9 10, Hesler 0 1-2 1, Harper 3 0-4 6,
Team 10 8-24 31.
Three-Point Goals: N. Adams- Stout 1, Shipley 1, Hupp 1