To the victors belong the smiles, and the nets

All smiles after their team’s win over Western in the Division IV sectional finals are Peebles seniors, from left, McKinlee Ryan, Matti Nichols, Kaitlyn Willey, and Baylee Justice.

Lady Indians bring home Division IV sectional championship – 

By Mark Carpenter – 

An outstanding season continued last Saturday afternoon for Coach Billie Jo Justice and the Peebles Lady Indians as they were crowned as one of the Southeast District’s Division IV sectional champions. With many of their fans stuck at home because of the unexpected Saturday snowfall, the Peebles girls beat the weather and the Western Lady Indians by a final score of 60-41, thereby earning a trip to the district semi-finals.
The Peebles squad took care of business early, jumping to a big lead and leading from wire to wire. Though Western cut the lead to single digits in the fourth quarter, the Tribe was never seriously threatened, improving their overall record to 16-6 with the 19-point triumph.
“It helps to get that good tournament seed,” said Coach Justice in her postgame interview. “Western played much better tonight than when we had played them earlier in the season, they played hard all the way to the end. We had a little lead all the way but they stayed aggressive.”
“We spread some points out tonight and got a lot of different contributions. Jacey has been wound up for this game for awhile and she played well for us again.”
With the two teams safe and snug at Northwest High School, the first quarter of action was a story of Peebles pressure forcing Western turnovers and racing out to an 11-1 lead after eight minutes. Two baskets by Matti Nichols and a Jacey Justice three-pointer gave the Lady Indians in white a lead they never relinquished.
Peebles continued to pour it on in the second stanza, getting back to back Justice treys to take a commanding 23-2 advantage. A jumper by Baylee Justice and two baskets in close from Tatum Arey sent Peebles to the halftime break comfortably in front 30-13.
With the big lead, the second half was just a matter of maintain and control for the Peebles girls, and with three-pointers by Jacey Justice and McKinlee Ryan, they managed to keep the margin in double digits. Arey again got the last score of the quarter, closing the third with a bucket that gave her team a 47-31 lead.
Even facing the big deficit, Western did not quit, going on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to get back to within single digits at 50-41, but that was it for the girls in green. Beginning with a pair of Ryan free throws and culminating with the Justice girls hitting six straight from the stripe, Peebles scored the game’s last 10 points and earned the right to cut down the nets as Division IV sectional champs, with the 60-41 win.
“That 10-0 run was a little scary,” said Coach Justice. “They hit a couple of threes on us when we didn’t rotate well in our zone. We had to adjust there a little bit because anything can happen with that three-point shot.”
Freshman sensation Jacey Justice led the way for Peebles with 23 points, a total that included four three-point goals. Tatum Arey and Matti Nichols scored 8 apiece, with McKinlee Ryan adding 7.
Now the focus for the winning Lady Indians turns to the district semi-finals, where they will be in action on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 1:45 p.m. at Jackson High School, facing off with #2 seed Federal Hocking. The winner of tha game will move to the district title game on March 1, again at Jackson.
“We don’t know much about Federal Hocking, but we will keep looking for what we can find on them,” says Coach Justice. “I think when you get to the districts, if you go in with the right mentality you can play with any of the teams. If our kids play hard, we have a shot at anybody.”

1 12 18 10 –41

11 19 17 13 –60
Western (41): Evans 16, Whitt 13, Tackett 1, Bowles 3, Tong 6, Horner 2
Peebles (60): J, Justice 23, Ryan 7, Reed 4, Nichols 8, Toller 6, B. Justice 6, Arey 8
Three-Point Goals:
Western (4): tong 2, Bowles 1, Evans 1
Peebles (6): J. Justice 4, Ryan 1, B. Justice 1