WELLSTON, Ohio — Behind the 8-ball before the first quarter was over.
The 14th-seeded Southern girls basketball team trailed third-seeded Trimble 15-to-2 eight minutes into Saturday’s Division IV sectional final at Wellston High School, where the Lady Tomcats came away with a 68-46 victory.
The Lady Tornadoes (5-19) missed all-8 of their field goal attempts in the opening stanza, and to make matters worse, starting point guard Phoenix Cleland picked up her third foul in the period.
Trimble (18-5) — the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division champion this season — scored the first four points of the second quarter for a 19-2 lead.
Southern connected on it 12th field goal attempt of the game, a two-point shot by senior Baylee Wolfe, which started a 6-0 spurt. The Lady Tomcats, however, put an end to the run by making four straight free throws following a personal foul and a technical foul with 3:21 left in the half.
Each side scored nine points over the rest of the period, and Trimble took a 32-17 lead into halftime.
THS led by as many as 17 points, at 48-31, in the third, but the Purple and Gold claimed the final seven markers in the quarter and trailed 48-38 at the start of the fourth.
Phoenix Cleland made a pair of free throws nine seconds into the fourth, cutting Trimble’s lead to single digits for the first time since the Lady Tomcats made it 12-2 4:10 into play.
SHS never got closer than eight, however, as THS closed the 68-46 victory with a 20-to-6 run.
For the game, Trimble earned a 42-to-27 rebounding advantage, including 17-to-13 on the offensive end. The Lady Tornadoes committed 15 turnovers, two fewer than THS. The Purple and Gold collected 14 assists, eight steals and one rejection, while the Lady Tomcats combined for 18 assists, 11 steals and four blocked shots.
SHS shot 16-of-49 (32.7 percent) from the field, including 3-of-12 (25 percent) from long range, while Trimble made 26-of-62 (41.9 percent) field goal attempts, including 6-of-18 (33.3 percent) three-point tries. At the foul line, Southern was 11-of-20 (55 percent) and THS was 10-of-13 (76.9 percent).
Wolfe led the Lady Tornadoes with a double-double of 19 points and 14 rebounds, to go with three steals and a block on the defensive end. Phoenix Cleland, Kayla Evans and Jordan Hardwick each scored nine points in the setback, with Cleland earning a team-best seven assists. SHS senior Shelby Cleland chipped in with a pair of assists for the Purple and Gold.
For Trimble, Briana Orsborne led all-scorers with 21 points, including a game-best three triples. Jayne Six posted a double-double of 20 points and 18 rebounds, while also recording a game-best two blocks for the Lady Tomcats.
Emily Calentine came up with eight points and a team-best three steals in the win, Emily Young added seven points and seven assists, while Sophia Ives tallied five points. Laikyn Imler had three points and a game-high eight assists, while Ashlynn Hardy and Riley Campbell scored two points apiece for the victors.
In the regular season, Trimble topped Southern 67-57 on Dec. 16 in Racine, and 56-37 on Jan. 25 in Glouster.
The Lady Tomcats — sectional champs for the first time since 2010 — will face New Boston in the district semifinal at Jackson High School on Saturday.
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.