By Mark Carpenter
In the past few years, heart break in the district finals has been far too common for Coach Vohn Hoop and his Peebles Lady Indians and last Thursday night at Jackson High School proved to be just that one more time as the Lady Indians gave away a late lead in regulation and were eliminated from the post season with a 48-45 overtime loss to the Waterford Lady Cats from the Tri-Valley Conference.
“That was as much pressure defense as we had seen all year,” said Coach Hoop after the game. “I thought we had the better team but we just didn’t execute against their press.”
Both teams were a little tense at the game’s beginning as turnovers were the norm but the Lady Indians jumped out quick with a three-pointer on their first possession by Jessica Sowards. Another trey by Brooke Justice at the 5:50 mark put Peebles up 6-2. Waterford answered with a three-pointer from Taylor Hilverding and then the full court press began to bother the Lady Indians, something that would plague Peebles the entire evening.
The Lady Indians took an 8-5 lead on a pair of Sidney Pell free throws with 4:40 left in the first period but those were the last points that Peebles scored in the first stanza. The Lady Cats closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run, using their press to force mistakes and converting on the other end. Back to back buckets by Dani Dryer put the Lady Cats up 11-8 after eight minutes of intense action.
It was the Lady Indians recovering as the second quarter began, getting an unorthodox banked in three from the corner by Pell and a pair of Baylee Wallace free throws to retake the lead at 13-11. It was Wallace who provided the spark in the second period for Peebles, scoring 10 points, including a 6 for 8 performance at the charity stripe as she managed to get the ball in the paint and draw the Waterford fouls.
A stick back by Wallace with 3:45 left in the first half put Peebles on top 19-15 and a later bucket by Aubrey McFarland gave the Lady Indians their biggest lead of the half at 23-17. A jumper by Pell from the top of the key capped a 6-0 Peebles run and the Lady Indians looked to be rolling, heading to the halftime break with a 25-17 advantage.
The Peebles momentum vanished early in the third quarter as the Lady Cats scored 13 of the quarter’s first 15 points to switch the lead back to their side of the scoreboard and the Indians did not manage a single field goal. Two baskets by Hilverding plus a three from Drayer put Waterford in front 30-27 with 1:50 left in the period. The Lady Indians went nearly six minutes without scoring before Soards hit a pair of free throws with 45 seconds to go. The third quarter ended with now the Lady Cats in front, clinging to a slim 30-29 lead and setting the stage for a wild and exciting finish.
With 5:50 to go in the game, Pell drilled a three from the top of the key to tie the game at 32 apiece and when Wallace got loos inside to convert and old-fashioned three-point play, the Lady Indians led 35-32. Wallace followed with a nice turn around jumper just outside the lane to cap an 8-0 run and with 2:54 to play, Peebles held a five-point lead.
Waterford got a basket in the paint from Regan Porter before Pell was fouled with 1:27 left. Nearly automatic from the line, the Peebles senior hit both shots, but Porter got loose near the basket again for an easy score to keep Waterford within 39-36. With one minute left, Justice was fouled and hit one of two from the stripe, keeping it a two possession game. Hilverding answered with a long three from the corner and the Lady Cats fouled Pell again at the 26 second mark.
Again, Pell sank both shots to push the lead back to 42-39. Waterford came down and missed a three , but Wallace couldn’t corral the rebound and it went out of bounds to the Lady Cats with 11.2 seconds left.After a timeout, Drayer put up a desperation three-point attempt and was fouled with just 7.7 seconds to go and three free throws ahead. The Waterford sophomore guard came up big in the clutch, hitting all three shots to tie the game at 42. The Lady Indians could not get off a potential game-winning shot and the contest was headed to overtime.
“We debated what to do during the timeout because we had two fouls to give,” said Coach Hoop. “We decided to foul when the ball hit the floor, but it just didn’t work out. That’s all on me.”
Peebles struck first in the extra period, getting two Wallace free throws, but a Drayer basket tied it up again. Pell hit one of two from the line with 3:00 left and then neither team could dent the scoring column until Waterford went back in front on a Hilverding bucket at the 1:42 mark. After a Peebles turnover, the Lady Cats decided to hold the ball with their one-point lead, but turned it back over to the Lady Indians with 34.5 ticks left on the clock. Pell got a nice look at the rim on a drive but the shot wouldn’t fall and Peebles was forced to foul.
Porter went to the line with 8.7 seconds to go and calmly hit both attempts to make it 48-45. Pell got a decent look at a three from the win but the final shot of her high school career just wouldn’t fall and the Lady Indians saw their remarkable season come to a disappointing close as Waterford moved on the district championship game.
The loss dropped Peebles to 19-3 on the season and the Lady Indians were led as they have been so often by their outstanding senior duo of Baylee Wallace and Sidney Pell. Wallace led all scorers in the game with 19 points, hitting 11 of 14 from the free throw line. Pell added 15 points (7 for 8 from the foul line) as the two who next season will be college teammates at Ohio Christian combined for 34 of the 45 Peebles points. Even in defeat, the Lady Indians were a sparkling 21 of 26 from the free throw line.
For Waterford, it was Dani Drayer, with the clutch trio of free throws late in regulation, leading the way with 16 points. Regan Porter scored 16 including two crucial buckets late in the fourth quarter, while Taylor Hilverding added 12 for the winners who advanced on to meet South Webster in the district title game.
Though difficult to do, the Lady Indians had to come back on Saturday night and play their final regular season game, hosting the Lynchburg Clay Lady Mustangs. The Lady Indians made it a 20-win season and earned a share of the big school division title of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference for the first time since 1998 with a 69-51 victory.
“We had a great year overall,” said Hoop. “Two girls hit their 1,000th points, we won the league and the McDonald’s Classic, plus won our fourth sectional in a row.”
Mark Carpenter can be reached at 937-544-2391 or on Twitter @adamscosports.
11 6 13 12 6 —48
8 17 4 13 3 —45
Waterford (48): Starkey 1 0-0 2, Hilverding 5 0-0 12, Drayer 6 3-3 16, Sury 1 0-2 2, Seevers 0 2-2 2, Porter 6 2-2 14,
Team 19 7-9 48.
Peebles (45): McFarland 1 0-0 2, Sowards 1 2-2 5, Justice 1 1-2 4, Pell 3 7-8 15, Wallace 4 11-14 19, Team 10 21-26 45.