Redwomen lose heartbreaker in D3 sectional finals

Published 1:31 am Thursday, February 17, 2022

Rock Hill Redwomen guard Aleigha Matney attempts to dribble away from Portsmouth West Lady Senators’ Abby Adkins who falls on Matney’s leg. Rock Hill lost to West 61-56 in the Division 3 sectional finals on Wednesday. (Photo by Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

WEST PORTSMOUTH — In the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, there is a segment when Bullwinkle plays a teacher to student Rocky and says, “Today’’s lesson is mighty important.”

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It was a time of bitter disappointment for the Rock Hill Redwomen who lost a tough 61-56 decision to the Portsmouth West Lady Senators in the Division 3 sectional finals on Wednesday.

But with a young team that won only 6 games last season and has just one senior, the Redwomen were hoping to added to a successful season that saw them finish 19-5.

“Our kids got to learn a lot. We have never been in that situation. That was new to us and West has been there over and over,” said Redwomen coach Eric Bailey.

“You look and see how well you handle runs. Sometimes we handled it well, sometimes we didn’t handle it well. How do you handle fouls? Sometimes you handle it well, sometimes you don’t. At the end of the day, you look at what you take away from the game and it was a great learning experience for us how to handle it next year.”

Rock Hill opened the game with a 9-0 run only to have West go on a run of its own and get within 11-9 at the end of the quarter.

Lexi Deaver hit a 3-pointer to start the second quarter and West went up 12-11.

A putback by Hope Easterling had Rock Hill on top 15-14 but it proved to be the last time the Redwomen would lead.

Eden Cline hit a 3-pointer and thenEmma Sayre and Cline had layups for a 21-15 lead.

A 3-pointer by Charli Jo Howard put West up 27-17 but Rock Hill got a trey from Emma Harper, a 3-point play by Risner and Hazley Matthews sank two foul shots with 8 seconds left in the half to get within 31-26.

Hadyn Bailey’s trifecta to start the second half cut the spread to 31-29 only to have West go on a 6-0 run and it was 40-31.

Matthews’s layup made it 44-40 but Howard converted a 3-point play and it was 47-40 to end the quarter.

A 3-pointer by Harper got Rock Hill within 53-51 but the Lady Senators spread the floor to run clock and Rock Hill was forced to foul.

Deaver made 4 straight foul shots for a 59-51 lead before a 3-point play by Easterling made it 59-56 with 24 seconds left.

But West was able to run some clock and Howard had a run-out layup at the buzzer to set the final score.

‘It was a hard-fought game and West played really well,” said Bailey. “They were running the clock and we had to foul at the end and the Deaver girl stepped up and made her foul shots and a couple of other girls did, too. They did a good job. My hat’s off to them.”

Bailey had 15 points to lead the Redwomen while Easterling scored 13 and Matthews 11. Risner grabbed 16 rebounds and Easterling 12. Matthews had 4 assists and 4 steals while Bailey had 3 steals.

Portsmouth West (19-5) was led by Sayre with a game-high 27 points. Cline and Howard added 10 each.

Although coach Bailey is excited for his players’ future next season, he said Matney will be missed.

“We return everybody but Aleigha Matney and she set the gold standard for how a student/athlete should be for Rock Hill. We’re going to miss her tremendously,” said Bailey.

Rock Hill 11 15 14 16 = 56

Ports. West 9 22 16 14 = 61

ROCK HILL (19-5): Aleigha Matney 0 0 0-0 0, Hadyn Bailey 3 3 0-0 15, Emma Harper 0 2 0-0 6, Hope Easterling 6 0 1-1 13, Hazley Matthews 2 1 4-4 11, Haleigh Risner 0 0 0-0 0, J’lynn Risner 4 0 3-5 11. Totals: 21-61 7-10 56. 3-pt goals: 6–19. Rebounds: 17-O, 21-D = 38 (J. Risner 16, Easterling 12). Deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 6 (Matthews 4). Steals:  (Matthews 4, Bailey 3). Turnovers: 16. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: Bailey (4th 0:56).

PORTSMOUTH WEST (19-5): Maelynn Howell 2 0 3-6 7, Abby Adkins 0 0 0-0 0, Emma Sayre 9 1 6-8 27, Lexi Deaver 0 1 4-4 7, Eden Cline 2 2 0-0 10, Sydney McDemott 0 0 0-0 0, Charli Jo Howard 3 1 1-1 10. Totals: 21-50 14-19 61. 3-pt goals: 5-16. Rebounds: 9-O, 20-D = 29 (Howell 12). Deadball rebounds: 6. Assists: 4 (Sayre 2). Steals: 7 (Howell 3, Sayre 2. Deaver 2). Turnovers: 17. Fouls: 13. Fouled out: None.