COVINGTON — Twin Valley South girls basketball faced a tough end to their season as the Panthers fell 75-23 to the Arcanum Trojans in the Division III Sectional Tournament on Thursday, Feb. 11.
Coming into the game with a 5-16 record and the No. 17 seed, South knew it faced an uphill battle against the No. 2 seeded Trojans.
“When we play a really tough team, we know we have to do three things; we know we have to work hard, we know we have to have good sportsmanship, and we know we have to never give up,” South coach Lindsey Cole said. “We did those three things tonight.”
South kept with Arcanum early, tied 6-6 halfway through the first quarter as senior Taylor Clark hit four early free throws.
From that point on, however, the Trojans showed why they earned the No. 2 seed with a 32-1 run that stretched late into the second quarter as Arcanum took a 38-7 lead.
During this run, Arcanum connected on four 3-pointers as they forced numerous mistakes by South, eventually ending the game with 24 turnovers.
The Trojans eventually took a 52-11 lead at the half, leading to a running clock in the second half.
This is utilized in the OHSAA postseason tournament if the deficit reaches 35 or more points, and the clock is then only stopped for injuries, timeouts or stoppages by the officials. Additionally, the running clock is no longer used if the deficit drops below 30 points.
After just two points in the third quarter, South scored 10 in the fourth quarter to later make the final 75-23.
“It was a game that we knew was tough coming in. It was a team that we had a lot of respect for,” Cole said. “They’re very talented. They work hard. They’re well coached. They’re very respectful. If we were going to pick anybody to play and to lose to potentially, then this is a perfect team for that. They did an outstanding job and we knew they would.”
Senior Mackenzie Neal led with seven points, followed by Clark with six points and sophomore Ellie Webb with five points. Junior Makiah Newport added a 3-pointer as senior Kailee Burkett contributed two points.
The Panthers finish the season with a 5-17 record, picking up wins over Northridge, Tri-County North, Middletown Christian, Stivers and Ansonia.
“It took us a while to get into a groove this season. When we kind of got around to some games where we could win, we kept on coming up short game after game and we started to feel a little bit defeated,” Cole said. “I will say, honestly, our win last week against Ansonia, that was kind of like our iconic win of the year. It was finally that game where we fought through, we battled through adversity, we barely snuck out a win and that was very much needed. It kind of sent the seniors out on a high note. That was a ‘highlight’ of our season for sure.”
For the seniors who played their last game – Neal, Clark, Burkett, Maycie Davidson and Jasie Sarver – Cole said this was her first team as eighth graders.
“This group of seniors holds a special place in my heart. It’s been fun to watch them play basketball for five years now,” she said. “I think they’ve had a great five years. In terms of wins and losses, maybe that’s not the success we thought they would have in high school, but it’s been a fun journey with them. They’ve worked hard. They’ve been a great group of girls to get to coach and I couldn’t ask for a better group of five seniors.”
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles