For first time in 20 years, Lady Indians claim berth in the district championship game

Peebles head coach Billie Jo Justice (left) leads the celebration charge as her Lady Indians defeated Federal Hocking 54-33 to advance to the Division IV District championship game.

Peebles handles Federal Hocking 54-33 to advance – 

By Mark Carpenter – 
Photo by Kimberly Browning – 

The tournament road for Coach Billie Jo Justice and her Peebles Lady Indians will have at least one more stop as for the first time since 1998, the Lady Indians see their name on the bracket in a district championship game. That 1998 team, coached by Dick Reed, ended up as the state runner-ups and this year’s version of the Lady Indians kept their season alive on Saturday, Feb. 24 with a convincing 54-33 win over Federal Hocking in the Division IV District semi-finals, played on the hardwood at Jackson High School.
It was an all-around team effort for the Peebles squad, and again they were led in scoring by freshman Jacey Justice, who poured in 22 points in what is so far the biggest game of her young career. Eight more Lady Indians dented the scoring column as Peebles improved to 17-6 on the season in navigating the road to the district championship.
“We couldn’t find out a whole lot about Federal Hocking, but we knew they liked to press,” said Coach Justice. “We knew they would throw a lot of different stuff at us, but we worked hard all week on pushing the ball up court north and south and trying to actually score. We practiced well all week and the girls were pumped up and ready to go. We came out and did a nice job on both ends.”
“If we can get our girls open looks, we have girls who can shoot the ball and if we are patient on offense, those looks will come. All our kids want the ball now and are so much more confident.”
In Saturday’s win, the lady Indians got off to a quick start and were never really seriously challenged. Six different girls scored in the opening eight minutes, including a three-pointer from senior Baylee Justice, and Peebles held a double digit advantage at 13-3 after the first quarter.
The younger Justice got hot in the second stanza, as Jacey scored 10 of her team’s 12 points, firing in a pair of three-pointers in the process. The Lady Indians held a 25-14 lead with just seconds left in the first half, but a desperation banked-in three-pointer at the buzzer by Hocking’s Kylie Tabler drew the lady Lancers to within 25-17 at the intermission.
Any hopes that Federal Hocking might have had of that late three-pointer changing their fortunes were dashed in the opening minutes of the third period. Getting three-point goals from McKinlee Ryan and Baylee Justice, the Lady Indians opened the second half with a huge 12-0 run to see their lead bulge up to 37-17 and it was off to the races from there. The third quarter ended with Peebles on top 41-24 and all that was needed in the final eight minutes was for the Lady Indians to play smart and hold on to the big lead.
Over the span of that final eight minutes, the Lady Indians again got balanced contributions with points from six players, and Coach Justice was able to empty her bench late and get some JV girls some time in a district tournament. Off of the bench, both Kylie Sims and Lilly Gray got baskets and as the final horn sounded, the Lady Indians celebrated the opportunity to return to the district finals for the first time in 20 years, handling Federal Hocking by the 54-33 final margin.
Jacey Justice’s 22 points led the way for the victors, with McKinlee Ryan adding 9, Baylee Justice 6, and Matti Nichols 5. Point guard Paige Tolson led the Lady Lancers with 9.
Next up for the Peebles girls is a trip back to Jackson High School for the Division IV district championship contest, where they will face the unenviable task of matching up with #1 seed Portsmouth Notre Dame. That contest is scheduled for an 8:15 p.m. tip off on Thursday, March 1.
“We scrimmaged Notre Dame early in the year and they are a really good team,” said Coach Justice. “They have size and guards, but if we work hard, you never know what will happen.”

Peebles
13 12 16 13 –54
Federal Hocking
3 14 7 9 –33

Peebles (54): J. Justice 8 4-6 22, Ryan 2 4-4 9, Reed 1 0-2 2, Nichols 1 3-4 5, Toller 1 0-0 2, B. Justice 2 0-0 6, Arey 1 2-2 4, Gray 1 0-0 2, Sims 1 0-0 2, Team 18 13-18 54.
F. Hocking (33): Blake 0 0-1 0, Jarvis 0 1-4 1, Jackson 3 1-2 8, Tabler 2 2-2 8, Tolson 3 2-4 9, Mayle 2 0-2 4, Beha 0 3-4 3, Team 10 9-19 33.
Three-Point Goals:
Peebles (5): J. Justice 2, B. Justice 2, Ryan 1
F. Hocking (4): Jackson 1, Tabler 2, Tolson 1