Fast start and triples lift South
South Central used a dominant first quarter in the regular season to defeat rival New Washington.
In Saturday’s Class A Sectional 62 semi-final at New Washington, the Lady Rebels didn’t get the 20-2 start they did back in January, but the six 3-pointers and a 20-7 first- quarter lead was sufficient. The fast start, aided by Whitney Pease’s career-high 28 points and eight 3-pointers, lifted South Central to a 61-53 victory, putting the Lady Rebels in the championship game.
‘The fast start has helped us all year,’ Pease said. ‘In big games, we’ve had big runs. In the first and fourth quarter, we had great starts. That is what led us to the win, being strong and big.’
Six 3-pointers highlighted the electric first quarter for the Lady Rebels. Shelby Miller and Pease buried triples in the opening minutes. After New Washington tied the game at 6, South Central ripped off a 14-0 run, backed by four treys. Pease was responsible for three long balls, and Miller added the final one, eventually building a 20-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
‘We didn’t quite get the start we did last game, but Whitney came out and really shot the ball well,’ South Central coach Randall Schoen said. ‘She came up with some big shots. Shelby, Rachel (Pease) and others hit big shots for us in the first half, keeping that lead stretched out.’
New Washington made a moderate run at the start of the second quarter. Casey Johnson hit a 3-pointer to cap an 8-2 Lady Mustang start, trimming the South Central lead to 22-15.
The Lady Rebels quickly responded with a 3-point shot, this one from the hand of Katie Dennison after the junior blocked a shot on the defensive end. New Washington hit consecutive field goals, but they were answered by 3-pointers from Rachel Pease and Whitney Pease. The triples put South Central up, 31-21, at halftime. In the first half, South Central also had to deal with foul trouble from a trio of starters. Katie Saylor, Megan Ferree and Kayla Lewis gave positive minutes off the bench.
‘That is what we talked about. We have to get a few of these girls a few minutes here and there,’ Schoen said. ‘We hadn’t pushed it too hard this year, but tonight we needed it.’
Saylor finished with one point and six rebounds, and Lewis contributed two rebounds.
Whitney Pease opened the third quarter with another 3-pointer, but it was her final trey of the half that sealed the game. A field goal from Miller put South Central up, 39-24, midway thought the third. New Washington then cut the lead to 10 when Kriston Sarver converted a 3-point play. Then, for the next three minutes, South Central limited the Lady Mustangs to two possession as the Lady Rebels kept the ball away. In the closing seconds, Pease found herself open from the left wing, where she buried a 3-pointer and was fouled. After making the free throw with 3.3 seconds remaining, the Lady Rebels were up 42-29.
‘I think that was the back breaker for (New Washington),’ Schoen said. ‘They came out and tried to trap us, but we still ran our offense, and Whitney knocked down a big shot again.’
‘I can’t take all the credit. The girls all played well as a team and we got it done,’ Pease said.
New Washington never threatened in the final quarter, and the lead stretched out to 19 at one point.
‘Anytime you win a game here, you have to feel pretty good. It isn’t an easy place to play,’ Schoen said.
Pease, who finished with 28 points, said South Central’s defense was key to the start.
‘Defense has been a big thing for us,’ the senior said. ‘Playing against big teams like Floyd Central and New Albany has forced us to work harder on defense and it is paying off.’
The Lady Rebels forced 19 turnovers for the game. Miller scored 18 for the Lady Rebels, hitting two treys and going 8 of 11 at the free-throw line. Katie Dennison finished with eight points, and Rachel Pease had six.
Johnson led New Washington in scoring with 18 points.
After the game, Schoen said he was restless during the week, waiting through drawing the bye and a snow delay to finally play a post-season game.
‘It’s hard to sit at home when everyone is playing. I’d rather get in there and get the games rolling,’ he said. ‘But the girls have been here and know what it takes to win a sectional. They knew what they have to do, and they came out and did it.’
South Central advanced to face Henryville in the sectional final.
Sectional final postponed
Due to inclement weather Monday and Tuesday, the Class A Sectional 62 final between South Central and Henryville has been moved to today (Wednesday) at New Washington at 7 p.m.