ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Lady Tornadoes, Symmes Valley was ready for the rematch.
Just two days after the Southern girls basketball knocked off the Lady Vikings by a 54-51 margin in the regular season finale in Racine, No. 8 seed Symmes Valley ended the ninth-seeded Lady Tornadoes postseason with a 60-44 decision in the Division IV sectional semifinal on Monday at Meigs High School.
Southern (7-17) was held without a field goal for the first 4:30 of play, as Symmes Valley (12-10) opened a 6-1 lead. The Lady Tornadoes cut the SVHS lead to two points, at 6-4, but the Lady Vikings ended the period with a 13-4 run and a 19-8 advantage.
The Lady Vikings opened the second quarter with back-to-back three-pointers and led by 17 points, at 25-8, with 5:45 left in the half. SVHS outscored Southern by a 6-to-5 clip over the remainder of the period and went into the half with a 31-13 lead.
Symmes Valley stretched its lead as high as 24 in the third quarter, but settled for a 22-point, 49-27 advantage headed into the fourth.
The Purple and Gold began the finale with a 9-to-2 run, trimming the deficit to 15 points, at 51-36, with 5:25 remaining. Southern never made it closer, however, as SVHS ended their 60-44 win with a 9-to-8 run.
”They shot the ball a whole lot better than they did down at our place,” said SHS head coach David Kight. “We concentrated on (Jensyn Shepherd) and (Rachael Hayes), they had 41 of the 51 down at our place. We tried to take them away and let the other kids beat us, and tonight that’s what happened in the first 10 minutes of the ball game. Then we were fighting up stream all the way.”
For the game, Southern shot 17-of-71 (23.9 percent) from the field, including 2-of-20 (10 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, Symmes Valley shot 21-of-52 (40.4 percent) from the field, including 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) from deep. At the free throw line, SHS was 8-of-16 (50 percent) and SVHS was 14-of-26 (53.8 percent).
“We moved the ball a little bit,” Kight said. “Zone makes you stagnant with high school kids, whether its boys or girls. We got the ball moving and we got shots, we were just sort of a step slow tonight. The bounces kind of went their way and we didn’t hit shots that we’d normally hit early. It’s kind of what we’ve been fighting all year long, they played hard, they played aggressive, we just needed a break to go our way once in a while and just couldn’t get it.”
The Lady Tornadoes claimed a narrow 43-to-42 rebounding edge, including 23-to-12 on the offensive glass. Southern committed 21 turnovers, two fewer than the Lady Vikings, with both teams picking up 10 steals. SVHS claimed advantages of 14-to-8 in assists and 8-to-4 in blocked shots.
SHS was led by senior Josie Cundiff with 10 points, including three from long range. Baylee Wolfe recorded nine points and three assists, to go with a game-best 13 rebounds, while Jaiden Roberts scored eight points and grabbed seven boards.
Phoenix Cleland and Paige VanMeter each had six points in the setback, with Cleland making one three-pointer and dishing out three assists. Lauren Lavender scored four points for the Purple and Gold, while Shelbi Dailey rounded out the team total with one marker.
Wolfe paced the Lady Tornado defense with three steals and three blocks.
Jensyn Shepherd led the victors with 22 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Rachael Hayes with 17 points and six assists. Kaylee Cade was responsible for all-4 of Symmes Valley’s three-pointers and finished with 14 points. Payton Hunter, Kylie Deer and Taylor Sells marked two points each for SVHS, while Hailee Littlejohn scored one.
Shepherd had five rejections for the winning defense, while Hayes and Sell both grabbed three steals.
This marks the final game in the Purple and Gold for seniors Josie Cundiff, Shelbi Dailey, Bailee Floyd, Lauren Lavender, Jaiden Roberts and Paige VanMeter.
“I think they’ll leave a good legacy, I know that personally, they will for me,” Kight said of his six seniors. “They’re going to be the foundation for what we build here at Southern High School on the girls side. They bought in to our foxhole mentality, and that’s going to carry on to the younger kids. They did some good things and had some good leadership.”
Symmes Valley advances to Thursday’s sectional final at MHS, where it will meet top-seeded Waterford.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.