Division IV Sectional Final
Strasburg 49, Newcomerstown 46
UHRICHSVILLE -- The saying holds that it is difficult to beat the same team three times in one season. Newcomerstown girls' basketball coach Craig Hamilton and his record-setting Lady Trojans found that to be true following a 49-46 upset by the fourth-seeded Lady Tigers in the Division IV Sectional championship on Wednesday at Claymont High School.
Newcomerstown (18-4) entered the tournament as the second seed following a sparkling regular season in which the Orange-and-Black posted 17 wins, the best in Lady Trojans' hardwood history. Furthermore, the Lady Trojans knocked off their opponent twice in the regular season by scores of 44-37 and 47-30. And to top it off, senior standout Stephany Felton was on track to surpass the 1,000-point career mark, which she did in the second quarter with a layup.
Strasburg made it clear that the only statistic they were worrying about is the number of nets cut down.
The game promised to be close from the outset as the first period ended in a 9-9 draw with senior Chelsea Fenton pacing the Lady Trojans with five markers.
Felton vaulted the 1,000-point plateau with 6:27 to play in the half, two of her game-high 17 points. The rest of the second quarter belonged to the Lady Tigers, however, as Mackenzie Colombo accounted for four points and three takeaways while teammate Ariel Jones dialed up four markers.
Strasburg used a 7-0 run to close out the half and take a 22-16 edge into the locker room at the break.
Newcomerstown stormed back in the third stanza, using a 9-0 starting spurt led by Felton's six points and a team effort on the glass as the Lady Trojans out-rebounded Strasburg 12-3. Hamilton's squad also held the Lady Tigers to just five third-quarter points.
With a 29-27 advantage as the fourth quarter began, Newcomerstown appeared to have the momentum. Unfazed, SHS played a near-flawless final period in what turned into a frenzied shootout as both teams combined for 42 points in the last eight minutes.
The lead changed hands three times before Strasburg took the driver's seat for good with 1:38 to play as Erin Metzger scored on a driving layup for a 40-39 lead. Two Colombo free-throws later, another Metzger drive upped the gap to 44-39.
The rest of the game was won from the foul line. All told, Strasburg converted near-flawless seven-of-eight foul shots and seven-of-11 field goals in the final period. Schuster netted seven, while Mikayla Jones added five. Felton's seven, including a long range triple, were not enough.
For Hamilton, who begun his stint as head coach four years ago with this group of seniors, the success of the overall campaign mixed with Wednesday's loss was bittersweet.
"That was a great accomplishment for these girls (the wins record)," the NHS coach allowed. "For four years we have had our growing pains, but things have really paid off for us. They have worked hard and earned success, and it was nice to see them reap the rewards of their efforts."
In a game of rallies, the Lady Trojans' mentor felt it was a sluggish first half that bogged down his team.
"We talked a lot about the spurts, and we knew they (Strasburg) were going to be scrappy and get after it. In the first half, we didn't match their intensity and we weren't taking care of the ball or moving right defensively."
Behind Felton's 17 markers, sophomore Allie Hinton tallied seven points along with four rebounds, three steals, and a rejection. Kori Conner and Taylor Postel each netted six points, while Conner pulled down a team-high nine boards.
Colombo tallied 13 points and four steals, followed by Schuster's 11 markers. Cregan pumped in nine points, while Ariel Jones grabbed six rebounds and a pair of steals.
Newcomerstown shot 16-of-49 (32 percent) from the floor and 12-of-18 (66 percent) at the stripe. Strasburg connected on 17-of-48 (35 percent) of its field goals and 12-of-16 (75 percent) of its charity tosses. The Lady Trojans were guilty of 17 turnovers while forcing 13, and won the rebounding battle 29-22.
The Tigers improved to 12-11 and face either Zanesville Rosecrans or Caldwell on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Indian Valley High.
Division III Sectional Final
Tusky Valley 72, Ridgewood 35
DOVER -- The Lady Generals played flat while the Lady Trojans played red hot with the result being a 72-35 thumping on Wednesday in a Division III sectional game at Dover High School.
Tusky Valley made its first four shots while Ridgewood missed its first seven. An early 8-0 Lady Trojan lead got worse from there. After closing to 10-5, the Lady Generals gave up a 4-0 run as the Lady Trojans finished the quarter leading 14-5.
The deficit went to 29-15 by halftime as Ridgewood suffered through a 2-of-12 showing from the field in the second frame. The Lady Trojans used a 20-11 run in the third period to go up 49-26 as the fourth quarter began. The last eight minutes were just as tough with Tusky Valley breezing to a 23-9 advantage for the final score.
Ridgewood's shooting percentage was extremely frigid as the Lady Generals finished with an 11-of-53 performance on the night, including 4-of-22 in the first half. The Orange and Black were outrebounded 41-24.
Kayla Tedrick led the Lady Generals (12-10) with 11 points, including nine at the foul line. Senior Jordan Vaiea contributed eight points while Ali Lusk finished with five. Kelsey Miller scored five points to go with six rebounds and two steals.
Paige Ricketts led Tusky Valley (17-5) with 19 points. Sarah Tucke scored 12 while Dunlap and Shannon Watson each finished with 11.