Lady Indians just never get untracked in district championship loss –
By Mark Carpenter –
Size does matter.
Especially in a girls’ basketball game.
Coach Billie Jo Justice and her Peebles Lady Indians learned that lesson the hard way on Thursday, March 1 when they faced off with the Portsmouth Notre Dame Lady Titans in a Division IV District championship game played at Jackson High School. Peebles had advanced to the district final contest with wins over Western Latham and Federal Hocking, but through those two games and their entire regular season, they hadn’t faced the height brought to the table by the Notre Dame squad.
The Lady Titans roster has two spots that grab your attention- 6’0” senior Lexi Smith and 6’4” junior Katie Dettwiller. It’s no secret that the Lady Indians’ game is perimeter-oriented and they just had no answer for the two “bigs” from Notre Dame as Dettwiller and Smith combined for 36 points to lead Notre Dame to a 53-29 win and a district title.
“Those two big girls are just really nice athletes,” said Coach Justice in her postgame radio interview. “They are tall and physically strong and that is just not our game, and we struggled all night with their high-low game.”
In the district final battle, the Lady Titans took control early and never gave it back up, scoring on their first five possessions of the game to race out to a 10-0 advantage. Peebles finally broke their ice over four minutes into the game on a pair of McKinlee Ryan free throws, but before the first quarter ended, Notre Dame got stick back buckets from both Smith and Dettwiller to lead 16-4 after one.
After a first eight minutes of struggle, the Lady Indians began to find a little of their footing in the second stanza, opening the scoring with a Baylee Justice three-point goal. After Notre Dame again got scores in close from their pair of big girls, Ryan nailed a three from the wing that pulled Peebles back to within 20-12, but again the Lady Titans went inside, getting two buckets from Dettwiller and then a steal and score from Ava Hassle to lead 26-14 at the intermission.
Even down 12 at the break, the Lady Indians had to feel like they were still in the game, but the Lady Titans had other plans. Sandwiched around a three-pointer by Peebles’ Jacey Justice, Notre Dame scored six of their own to extend the margin to 32-17. Justice hit another trey later in the third period, but Notre Dame quickly matched that with a three ball from Taylor Schmidt. Two Justice free throws closed out the third stanza with the Lady Indians still in a double digit hole, down 37-24.
Any hopes of a late comeback for the Peebles squad were quickly doused as the final quarter began with the Lady Titans going on an 14-1 run, led by four baskets from Smith, all within two feet of the basket. That made it 51-25 with under two minutes to play and it was all over but the shouting.
Peebles got a nice baseline drive and three-point play from Tatum Arey and their final point of an outstanding 2017-18 season came on a free throw with eight seconds left by Kylie Sims as the Lady Indians fell short in their bid for their first district title since 1998.
In the loss, Jacey Justice led Peebles with 14 points, with McKinlee Ryan adding 7, as the Lady Indians finished with an overall record of 17-7. The Notre Dame 1-2 pinch of Dettwiller (19 points) and Smith (17 points) proved to be just too much in the end for the Lady Indians.
“We are excited about the girls we have coming back,” said Coach Justice. “They will work hard and we will be prepared.
The defeat marked the final games in the high school careers of four Peebles seniors- McKinlee Ryan, Baylee Justice, Matti Nichols, and Katelyn Willey.
“The senior leadership on and off the floor for these four was invaluable,” said the Peebles head coach. “I can’t say enough about how they guided our younger kids all year and set a great example.”
4 10 10 5 –29
16 10 11 16 –53
Peebles (29): J. Justice 5 2-3 14, Ryan 1 4-4 7, Toller 0 0-2 0, B. Justice 1 0-0 3, Arey 1 1-1 3, Gray 0 1-2 1, Sims 0 1-2 1, Team 8 9-14 29.
Notre Dame (53): Schmidt 2 0-0 5, A. Smith 0 2-2 2, K. Dettwiller 7 5-6 19, Cassidy 1 0-0 2, Hassle 3 2-2 8, L. Smith 8 1-3 17, Team 21 10-13 53.
Peebles (4): J. Justice 2, Ryan 1, B. Justice 1
Notre Dame (1): Schmidt 1