Deeper Lady Pirates down Lady Hornets in district finals

Published 11:49 pm Monday, March 1, 2021

Coal Grove Lady Hornets’ Ellie Holmes (2) reaches for as she attempts to steal the basketball from Wheelersburg Lady Pirates’ Kaylee Darnell during Saturday’s Division 3 district championship game. The Lady Hornets lost, 68-47. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

IRONTON — The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates went deep to beat the Coal Grove Lady Hornets, and it really didn’t have anything to do with hitting 3-pointers.
Wheelersburg made six 3-pointers but Coal Grove made five. The difference was the Lady Pirates ability to go deep on their bench as they pulled away in the second half to post a 68-47 win in the Division 3 district finals on Saturday at Ironton High School.
“They’re depth just killed us. We couldn’t match the speed and athleticism they brought off the bench,’ said Lady Hornets’ coach Rick Roach.
“The pressure they applied to my guards was hard to deal with. We were not used to having someone with hand, forearm and body check on us at all times. It also didn’t help that they shot the lights out and outrebounded us.”
Wheelersburg did shoot well as it hit 28-of-60 field goal attempts for 47 percent. Conversely, the Lady Hornets had an off-night on the wrong night as they made just 16-of-68 shots for 23.5 percent.
Kaylee Darnell scored 27 points to lead the Lady Pirates with Makenna Walker scoring 14.
Addi Dillow managed to score 16 points for Coal Grove despite being swarmed by the Lady Pirates’ defense. Kaleigh Murphy had 13 points and Abbey Hicks added 10.
Dillow finished her career as the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,606 points.
Darnell hit a 3-pointer and scored 9 points in the first quarter as Wheelersburg took a 19-10 lead.
The Lady Pirates went on a 6-0 run to turn a 24-12 lead into a 28-12 spread with 2:16 left in the half.
But Murphy hit back-to-back 3-pointers to ignite the Lady Hornets and get them within 28-20.
Darnell answered with a 3-pointer from the corner to put the Lady Pirates ahead 31-20 but Dillow’s trifecta with one second left in the half put the deficit at 31-23.
Dillow began the second half just as she ended the first half with a long-range bomb that cut the spread to just 31-26.
Abbey Hicks had a 3-point play at the 7:06 mark and Coal Grove trailed 34-29 and Jaidyn Griffith’s putback with 6:07 to go in the third quarter had the Lady Hornets down 36-31.
But that’s when things went south.
Wheelersburg took advantage of missed shots and some turnovers to finish the quarter on a 19-5 run and the lead was 55-36.
The Lady Pirates moved out to a 59-39 lead early in the fourth quarter and Coal Grove could get no closer than 59-42.
The final score was the Lady Pirates biggest lead of the game.
Coal Grove finished the season 22-3 for the most wins in the program’s history. The Lady Hornets won three straight Ohio Valley Conference titles which was a first for the program.
The trip to the district finals was only the third time they have advanced that far in the tournament and twice have been under Roach including 2007 and this season.
The Lady Hornets did reach the regionals once in 1983 under former coach Dave Owens. They lost to eventual state champion Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans.
Wheelersburg will play in the district finals Wednesday at Chillicothe Southeastern.
The Lady Pirates are now 18-2 with their only losses being 63-45 to Vinton County and 68-52 to Russell, Ky.
Coal Grove 10 13 13 11 = 47
Wheelersburg 19 12 2 13 = 68
COAL GROVE (22-3): Kelsey Fraley 0 0 1-2 1, Elli Holmes 0 0 0-0 0, Addi Dillow 4 2 2-5 16, Laura Hamm 0 0 0-0 0, Katie Deeds 0 0 0-0 0, Autum Hicks 0 0 0-0 0, Kaleigh Murphy 2 2 3-6 13, Abbey Hicks 3 1 1-1 10, Rylee Harmon 0 0 0-2 0, Kenadee Keaton 0 0 0-0 0, Jaidyn Griffith 2 0 3-4 7. Totals: 16-68 10-19. 3-pt goals: 5. Fouls: 12. Fouled out: None.
WHEELERSBURG (18-2): Ellie Kallner 2 1 0-0 7, Madison Whitaker 0 1 0-0 3, Lauren Jolly 0 0 0-0 0, Kiera Kennard 0 0 1-2 1, Alaina Keeney 2 1 1-4 8, Kaylee Darnell 9 3 0-0 27, Lyndsay Heimbach 0 0 0-0 0, Makenna Walker 7 0 0-2 14, Lexie Rucker 2 0 0-0 4, Macee Eaton 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28-60 2-8 68. 3-pt goals: 6. Fouls: 15. Fouled out: None.

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