COVINGTON – West Liberty-Salem defeated Miami East, 58-46, in a Division III girls basketball sectional final on Monday.
It was the 400th victory of Tiger Coach Dennis McIntosh’s career.
“It means I’ve been around a long time and I’ve had a lot of really good players and really good assistant coaches,” McIntosh said.
The Tigers jumped out on a 12-2 run and led 23-17 at the intermission, with Vikings’ star Morgan Haney on the bench for the final seven minutes of the second quarter with three fouls.
There were two halves of Monday’s game, but they didn’t exactly coincide with halftime. Rather, they split around the 3:23 mark of the third quarter, when WL-S post Selena Weaver went down with a dislocated shooting elbow and didn’t return. She was taken to a hospital as a precaution.
At the time, she was the Tigers’ leading scorer with 12 points and WL-S had done a great job getting creative with the ways in which her teammates fed her the basketball.
“That’s what we were kinda looking for. We knew we had a height advantage on them inside, so that was one of the things we’ve been working on all week,” McIntosh said. “It takes a lot of work, and when we’re basically only practicing with 10 kids, a lot of the starters have to go against each other and make them better at passing the ball. I think we’ve done a great job at it. We’ve put in a couple more set plays over the last couple weeks just for Selena and our posts.”
After the injury, Miami East cut into the West Liberty-Salem lead in spurts, but it seemed as though every time the Tigers needed a bucket, there was Kelsey Day.
Day, absent from the teams’ first meeting in December, went off, scoring 19 of her game-high 22 points in the second half – many of them after Weaver was forced from the game.
“They wanted to make sure they played their hardest to make up for a fallen teammate, and we pray (Weaver)’s going to be OK. To pull themselves together and get focused on playing basketball again just shows what kind of people they are,” McIntosh said. “(Day) missed some shots early that she’s made lately, but I think she was just rushing it a bit. But in the second half, it seemed like every time they were making a run, she’d hit a shot that’d extend the lead back out for us a little bit. And that’s what you hope seniors do for you.”
In addition to Day’s 22 points and Weaver’s 12, Sophie Cole added 8 points to the effort. Gabby Hollar had 7 and Emily Hollar added 6.
WL-S (22-3) advances to the district on Saturday, March 2 at Springfield versus Purcell Marian at 11 a.m.