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Paul Boggs: West evens SOC III

Jan. 30—Previous

Minford junior Marlee Pendleton (21)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

West senior Emma Sayre (21) and Minford's Maggie Risner (1) battle for the ball as fellow Minford junior Lexi Pendleton (0) looks on during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Erica Fike

West senior Emma Sayre (21) goes up for a shot as Minford's Ava Cronin (2) defends during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

West freshman Macey Whisman (1)

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

Minford junior Maggie Risner (1)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

Minford junior Marlee Pendleton (21)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

West senior Emma Sayre (21) and Minford's Maggie Risner (1) battle for the ball as fellow Minford junior Lexi Pendleton (0) looks on during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Erica Fike

West senior Emma Sayre (21) goes up for a shot as Minford's Ava Cronin (2) defends during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

West freshman Macey Whisman (1)

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

Minford junior Maggie Risner (1)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

Minford junior Marlee Pendleton (21)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

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West senior Emma Sayre (21) and Minford's Maggie Risner (1) battle for the ball as fellow Minford junior Lexi Pendleton (0) looks on during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Erica Fike

WEST PORTSMOUTH — For the second time this season, Minford's Maggie Risner made a buzzer-beating final shot against the West Lady Senators.

Only this time, Risner's buzzer-beater was indeed rendered quite meaningless.

For on Monday night at West High School, it was simply Lady Senator senior Emma Sayre's world —and the rest of the universe was merely living in it.

That's because the five-foot and three-inch point guard Sayre scored a game-high 22 points, including 10-of-12 free throws from taking the second half over, as West exacted a measure of revenge —and tied the Lady Falcons atop the Southern Ohio Conference Division III with a 44-33 win at The Rock.

On Jan. 11, the junior Risner rose up and hit the game-winner for the Lady Falcons, lifting Minford to a thrilling 39-37 defensive rockfight victory over West —and taking over the top spot in the first-year SOC III.

All her buzzer-beater did on Monday was make the final 44-33, as the Lady Senators first erased a 10-5 deficit, then went full retro with a patented 1-3-1 half-court zone defense — doubling up the Lady Falcons 18-9 in the third quarter, towards taking their largest lead at 36-22 with five minutes and 15 seconds remaining.

In fact, only once in the final period —on a Lexi Conkel three-point goal with four minutes left —did the West advantage dip below double digits (36-27).

Sayre, the Division I collegiate volleyball signee with Marshall University and sure-fire first team all-Southeast District Division III girls basketball selection, scored 17 second-half points —primarily driving the lane and either making point-blank shots, or getting fouled and converting her free-throw attempts.

As a result, both teams are 7-1 in the division —while West is now 15-3 and Minford 15-4.

A Lady Falcon win would have clinched at least a share of the league championship, but instead, the Lady Senators stood tall to the test —and are back again tied with Minford with two league games remaining.

On Monday night, with West's 1-3-1 defense grounding the Lady Falcons, the Lady Senators scored in transition following stops and rebounds —as they outscored them 39-23 over the final 21-and-a-half minutes.

The Lady Falcons had 10 points only a minute and 35 seconds into the second stanza.

For the rest of the period, they only had a Kynedi Davis free throw —with 52 seconds left.

With an Emily Moore basket off a Kate Rollins offensive rebound, the Lady Senators never trailed for the final 15 minutes and three seconds.

"We held them to 11 points in the first half, so we had our 1-3-1 defense working. At halftime, we just said we had to play more comfortable on offense and some shots will start falling. Once we see the ball go in the hole, we'll build some confidence. It all generated from our defense. We started getting some steals, some deflections, and some quick runouts. When you're getting easy layups, it builds your confidence with the rest of your offense. And our transition offense, we had to make them run for 32 minutes. I thought we did a good job of getting stops, getting rebounds, getting deflections and turnovers and beating them down the floor. Then the second half, we made a couple of adjustments, and got people in the right spots for some high-low looks. Did a really good job of just executing the gameplan," said second-year West head coach Larry Howell. "We defended, we rebounded when we needed to, and at the end of the game, we took good care of the ball."

No doubt, West's 1-3-1 zone made all the difference.

Risner, who scored 19 points against the Lady Senators in the opening meeting, led the Lady Falcons again —this time with 14 points on six field goals and 2-of-2 free throws.

Minford junior Maggie Risner (1)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

However, she only had one first-half field goal —and only two baskets by the end of the third.

Her final eight points all occurred in the final quarter, when West was maintaining anywhere from a nine to 14-point advantage.

The six-foot four-inch center Lindsee Williams scored just four first-half points, and Conkel's two three-pointers turned out to be inconsequential.

Besides her fourth-quarter canning, her first three-ball —with 5:35 left in the third —made it 19-16, the closest the Lady Falcons came in the final 14 minutes.

"They (Lady Falcons) have some good size, but I thought with our athleticism AND length in the 1-3-1, we could cause them some fits. It really did work tonight. The kids just played it extremely hard. But if you don't play hard in that defense, there's going to be holes in it. We've been working on it all week, and practice on it pays off. There's only so much you can run against a 1-3-1. It's not like playing against man, where everybody has all these different sets and offenses you can run. You have to pretty much show your hand and know where your players are going to be at," said Howell. "We wanted to know where (Lindsee) Williams was, we didn't want to let (Maggie) Risner get downhill this time, and we didn't want to let (Lexi) Conkel get going from the outside."

In that 1-3-1, West presents problems with six-foot freshman Macey Whisman, the 5-11 senior Moore, the 5-9 senior Rollins, and 5-10 senior Kamryn Spriggs.

Sayre runs the back baseline in the rarely-seen set.

Howell said keeping Risner under control was critical.

"The first game, Risner just got downhill on us and got in the paint a lot and we fouled her and she made her free throws. We gave her layups and free throws, and you can't give people layups and free throws and expect to win big ballgames like that," said the coach. "Our centers in the 1-3-1 did a great job of keeping the ball out of the paint tonight."

In addition to missed shots and turnovers against the Lady Senators, the Lady Falcons faced foul trouble as well —with Conkel quickly picking up a first-quarter pair, as did Williams in the first half.

"No way you can beat a solid team like that with the number of turnovers we had and shots we missed. Actually started out pretty good, getting good looks and shots against their man, even though we missed most of them. Two things changed the game in the first half. We got into foul trouble, with Lexi picking up her second midway through the first quarter and Lindsee picking up her second in the second quarter. He (Howell) also switched his defense up to that 1-3-1," said second-year Minford coach Chuck Miller." They are so long in the front of it, and have Sayre running on the back side. We struggled against it all night. But we were still only down one (12-11) at the half."

West senior Emma Sayre (21) goes up for a shot as Minford's Ava Cronin (2) defends during Monday night's Southern Ohio Conference Division III girls basketball game at West High School.

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

Sayre started up her offensive engine in the second 16 minutes.

She shot 6-of-15 from the field, but five of those misses were from behind the three-point line.

She had four second-half field goals, with her only first-half freebie being the foul shot on an old-fashioned three-point play —which gave the hosts their initial 5-4 lead.

Thus she was 9-of-11 in the second half, supplementing four rebounds and four steals.

"Too many turnovers in the the third for us, and Sayre began to take over on the offensive end. We switched to a zone in the first half because of our foul trouble, but once we got behind, we had to come out and guard them man, which opened it up for her," said Miller. "She is so good at attacking the rim and drawing the foul."

Howell concurred, but it was definitely no surprise to him.

"Emma (Sayre) just took over. She's just a bear. She's the leader on defense, she's the leader on offense, she's the leader of the team. She just does a great job, incredible competitor. Glad she's on our team. Can't say enough about her. I've been doing this a long time, and she's one of the best guards I've ever had, but one of the most competitive people I've ever coached. Says a lot about who she is," he said. "It's hard for anybody to stay in front of her for 32 minutes without her getting going."

The fellow senior Moore made three field goals and 2-of-2 free throws for eight points, as Whisman scored seven with three field goals and one third-quarter free throw.

West freshman Macey Whisman (1)

Courtesy of Joey Shupert

Rollins scored twice in the second half, and freshman Hailey Carver connected with a winged three-pointer — getting the Lady Senators' second-quarter scoring started.

But now, it's all about how these two teams finish —as Minford is at Wheelersburg on Thursday, then hosts Waverly in the SOC III finale on Feb. 8.

Minford junior Marlee Pendleton (21)

Courtesy of Erica Fike

For West, it plays at South Webster on Thursday, then will host Wheelersburg the following Thursday night.

Last season, as both squads were members of the SOC II before the conference expanded to three basketball divisions, West won its first-ever SOC championship in the sport.

Now, either outright or even shared with Minford, the Lady Senators seek a repeat.

All of this will in fact play out over the next eight nights.

"We're back tied atop the league, and repeating as league champs was one of our goals. When we lost at Minford with that last-second shot, the first thing we told the girls was that this (SOC III) race was not over yet. We just had to get better and take care of business from there on out. We've done that since then, and we're just trying to keep the train on the tracks and win these next two (league) games," said Howell. "A Gold Ball is a Gold Ball. We'd love to have another one came back to the West side."

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Minford 8 3 9 13 —33

West 5 7 18 14 —44

MINFORD 33 (15-4, 7- 1 SOC III)

Lexi Pendleton 0 0-0 0, Maggie Risner 6 2-2 14, Ava Cronin 0 0-0 0, Kynedi Davis 0 3-4 3, Lexi Conkel 3 0-0 8, Lindsee Williams 2 0-0 4, Marlee Pendleton 1 2-2 4, Lainey Howard 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 12 7-8 33; Three-point goals: 2 (Lexi Conkel 4)

WEST 44 (15-3, 7-1 SOC III)

Macey Whisman 3 1-3 7, Adi Stephens 0 0-0 0, Kate Rollins 2 0-0 4, Kamryn Spriggs 0 0-0 0, Emma Sayre 6 10-12 22, Hailey Carver 1 0-0 3, Emily Moore 3 2-2 8; TOTALS 15 13-17 44; Three-point goal: 1 (Hailey Carver 1)

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at pboggs@aimmediamidwest.com, or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved