Even though the game no longer had any bearing on the SCOL championship, a large, enthusiastic crowd came out Saturday night to watch the McClain Lady Tigers battle visiting Miami Trace in the final SCOL regular season game of 2015-16.
Miami Trace won a closely-contested game, 33-29.
The Lady Panthers finish the regular season with a record of 20-2 and go 13-1 for the outright SCOL championship.
Clinton-Massie placed second in the SCOL with a record of 11-3, and McClain takes third place at 10-4. The Lady Tigers finished the regular season with an overall record of 17-5.
McClain now prepares to play the Washington Lady Blue Lions for a third time this season in the Sectional tournament Thursday at 8 p.m. at Adena High School.
Miami Trace will play in the Sectional tournament on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. against Logan Elm. The Braves defeated Hillsboro Monday night, 50-45.
In a very friendly, sportsmanlike and just plain nice gesture, McClain Athletic Director Pat Stevens gave the okay for the Lady Panthers to cut down one of the nets after the game.
Both Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley in his post game radio comments and Miami Trace Athletic Director Aaron Hammond expressed their thanks and appreciation for that kind gesture.
Miami Trace sophomore Victoria Fliehman was the game’s leading scorer with 14 points.
Miami Trace senior Alexis Schwartz scored 12 points, including seven of the Lady Panthers’ 10 points in the first quarter.
For McClain, junior Taylor Polley led the way with 12 points.
Junior Lexie Barton was next in scoring for the Lady Tigers with five points.
“We were having trouble scoring,” McClain head coach Jarrod Haines said. “We were 30 percent from two-point (range), 29 percent from threes. That’s not going to win you too many games, especially against a team the calibre of Miami Trace.
“We were shooting the ball well there for a while,” Haines said. “Then we hit a slump where we were just not knocking them down.
“I told them in the locker room, ‘we can quit, we can hang it up, or we can start our new season and get back after it,’” Haines said. “The kids want to win; they’re disappointed. We just didn’t make shots. To win a basketball game, you have to knock down shots.
“I thought Maddie Stegbauer played an excellent game,” Haines said. “She gave everything she had. (Cassidy) Lovett is a very good defender. She’s very quick and she gave her problems.” That was a freshman versus freshman match-up.
“They just executed,” Haines said of Miami Trace. “They knocked down some big shots when they needed to. We missed some easy bunnies; we missed some wide-open shots. We turned the ball over at crucial times.”
“Both teams fought as hard as they could,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “We were lucky to make a couple more plays there in the fourth quarter.”
Ackley spoke about the quick start by senior Alexis Schwartz.
“Her points were huge,” Ackley said. “Lexi’s always been a role player for us. She’s played on the varsity since she was a freshman. She’s always been a team-first kid. Her and Kyla (Johnston) and Harmonee (Napier, the three seniors for Miami Trace) have all been great.
“Man, were her shots big in the first quarter,” Ackley said. “The first five or six games, she struggled, but, since then, she’s been on point. She’s playing on two broken bones in her foot. She’s all heart and guts. I don’t know how we’ll replace her.”
Ackley spoke about Miami Trace’s leading scorer, Victoria Fleihman.
“Vic wants the ball in the big moments of the game,” Ackley said. “We’ve been very fortunate she transferred to Miami Trace. What a big addition she’s been. She’s an even better kid than she is a basketball player. She’s the daughter of a coach. She’s been taught the game. She’s not scared of the moment. She really came through for us.”
Ackley remarked about the play of junior Hanna Reisinger.
“When you have defenders like McClain does, it’s extremely taxing on the body,” Ackley said. “We couldn’t get Hanna a break. Anytime you win 20 games, you have to be very lucky. We’ve played a lot of close games this season.
“Taylor Polley is the best defender I’ve ever coached against, bar none,” Ackley said. “She just gets after it. And Maddie Stegbauer has gotten a ton better.”
Freshman Cassidy Lovett continues to make her presence felt, according to Ackley.
“She’s played big minutes for us,” Ackley said. “She would be a starter on a lot of teams. We’ve been fortunate to be able to guide her in to what her role is to help this team. Everyone has just played their role to the max and hopefully we can continue to move forward.”
McClain took a 6-0 lead in the game with three-pointers by Barton and Polley.
Schwartz hit a three and then a two-point bucket, while Polley connected for another three.
Schwartz hit another basket to make it 9-7.
Fliehman hit a three to make it 10-9, Lady Panthers after one.
Barton scored to begin the second quarter, followed by Maddie Stegbauer.
Freshman Cassidy Lovett scored for Miami Trace and Malea Montavon hit a three for McClain for a 16-12 lead for the Lady Tigers.
After Fliehman scored again to make it 16-14, the teams went for several minutes before scoring again.
Fliehman scored with 1:37 to play in the half and Beth Montgomery hit a free throw for McClain to make it 17-16, Lady Tigers.
After a miss by Miami Trace and a turnover by McClain, Schwartz hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Lady Panthers a 19-17 halftime lead.
Miami Trace took its biggest lead of the game at that point, 21-17, on a basket by junior Samantha Ritenour to start the third.
McClain scored two baskets and held a 23-21 lead from the 5:40 mark until Lovett hit a free throw with 2:20 to play in the third.
Montgomery scored, then Schwartz to make it 25-24, McClain.
The previous play after a Miami Trace miss and a rebound for the Lady Panthers, a loose-ball situation ensued.
Lovett showed her tenacity, coming away with the ball.
Taylor Polley picked up her fourth foul on that play, prior to the bucket from Schwartz.
Lovett continued her scrappy play, with a steal and lay-up to make it 26-25 in favor of Miami Trace at the end of the third quarter.
The teams did not score for quite a while in the fourth.
Finally, Fliehman hit two free throws for a 28-25 lead with 4:15 to play.
Now back in the game, Polley quickly got open and buried a three-pointer from the corner, tying the game, 28-28.
Miami Trace got a second-chance basket from Fliehman with 2:07 to play in the game.
Fleihman made two more foul shots with 30 seconds to play that made it 32-28.
Polley went 1 of 2 from the line and Fleihman went 1 of 2 from the line with 9 seconds to play for what would be the final score, 33-29.
Haines looked ahead to the Sectional tournament.
In the first meeting of the season between the two teams, on Dec. 9, McClain hit 9 three-point field goals on the way to a 43-35 win over Washington.
At Washington, on Jan. 16, the Lady Blue Lions led by five points with six minutes to play. McClain rallied to win that game, 43-35.
“This is the SCOL,” Haines said. “Everybody’s going to play you tough. We have great respect for Washington Court House. They have given us two tough games. They have very tough kids.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 10 9 7 7 — 33
Mc 9 8 8 4 — 29
MIAMI TRACE — Kyla Johnston 0-0-0; Cassidy Lovett 2-1-5; Becca Ratliff 0-0-0; Hanna Reisinger 0-0-0; Harmonee Napier 0-0-0; Victoria Fliehman 3 (1)-5-14; Alexis Schwartz 3 (2)-0-12; Samantha Ritenour 1-0-2. TOTALS — 9 (3)-6-33. Free throw shooting: 6 of 9 for 67 percent. Three-point field goals: Schwartz, 2; Fliehman. Combined field goal shooting: 12 of 34 for 35 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 8 for 38 percent. Turnovers: 12. Rebounds: 16 (4 offensive). Assists: 6. Steals: 4.
McCLAIN — Beth Montgomery 1-1-3; Maddie Stegbauer 1-0-2; Malea Montavon 0 (1)-0-3; Taylor Polley 1 (3)-1-12; Lexie Barton 1 (1)-0-5; Mikenzie Coleman 0-0-0; Makenzie Montavon 2-0-4. TOTALS — 6 (5)-2-29. Free throw shooting: 2 of 6 for 33 percent. Three-point field goals: Polley, 3; Mal. Montavon, Barton. Combined field goal shooting: 11 of 39 for 28 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 5 of 18 for 28 percent. Turnovers: 16. Offensive rebounds: 12.
Miami Trace wins j-v game with McClain
In Saturday night’s j-v game, Miami Trace beat McClain, 30-16.
Miami Trace ends the season with a record of 16-5 overall, 11-3 in the SCOL.
Becca Ratliff led Miami Trace with nine points, tops for the game.
Olivia Wolffe was next with six points.
For McClain, Bryn Karnes led with six points.
Sara Bennett was next with three points.