CHILLICOTHE — The Miami Trace Lady Panthers began their quest for the program’s fifth District title in school history when they took on the Athens Bulldogs at Southeastern High School on a mild Thursday evening in Ross County.
Athens has three District championships in their history, including winning the 2013 title.
In a very low-scoring game, one quarter (the second) proved very costly to Miami Trace as Athens came away with a 34-23 victory.
Athens (24-1) will go for a repeat of the District championship when they take on Jackson Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. back at SEHS.
Jackson held off a stubborn Sheridan team for a 59-46 victory in Thursday’s opening District semifinal game at Southeastern.
Thursday, neither team shot the ball very well. You could chalk that up to just an off night, or, give credit to the defenses of both teams.
Whatever the case, there was only one quarter in the tightly-contested match-up where a team scored in double figures in a quarter, that being when Athens scored 11 points in the fourth.
The second quarter, as mentioned, hurt Miami Trace as they were able to score just one point.
Senior Josie Cobb led Miami Trace with 12 points. Fellow senior Abby Schwenk scored seven.
The key player for Athens was junior Dominique Doseck, who tallied a game-high 18 points, including going 11 of 15 from the free throw line.
Miami Trace was 5 of 7 as a team from the charity stripe.
Senior Hannah DeBruin helped the Bulldogs’ cause with eight points.
Offensively, Miami Trace made 8 of 40 field goal attempts for 20 percent. Athens was a little better, hitting 10 of 40 for 25 percent.
Though rebounding stats were not available, the Bulldogs had the edge with more second and third chance baskets than did the Lady Panthers.
“I want to give Athens credit,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “They were playing extremely hard on defense. I thought our kids scrapped and clawed.
“We were working so hard on defense on each and every possession,” Ackley said. “I think fatigue played a big factor tonight.
“We got open looks,” Ackley said. “We had kids in positions to make shots tonight and the ball just didn’t fall. Give Athens credit. They made a few more plays than we did and they came out on top.”
Ackley spoke about defending Athens’ leading scorer, Doseck.
“Brooklyne (Baldwin) was phenomenal,” Ackleys said. “She was guarding a 6-1 post player against Unioto (in the Sectional finals) and tonight, she’s guarding a 5-6 guard (Doseck) who’s getting looks from Purdue and Illinois. She’s going to get her points, but she worked for everything she got. Josie Cobb, I thought, came out and did a good job on (Doseck) when we tried to switch.
“We had individuals play great on defense, but they played great as a team, too,” Ackley said.
Athens took a 4-0 lead to start the game.
Cobb hit a three and then a two-point basket on successive possessions for the Lady Panthers for a 5-4 lead with 4:06 to play in the initial period.
Unfortunately for Miami Trace, it was to be their only lead of game.
Athens hit two more buckets and Cobb closed out the quarter with a three-point field goal at the buzzer to leave Athens with a 9-8 lead.
Athens started the second quarter with a 6-0 run for a 15-8 lead.
Miami Trace scored its only point of the second quarter on a free throw from senior Arianna Mabra at the 2:51 mark.
The Bulldogs hit one more basket in the half to take a 17-9 halftime lead.
The Lady Panthers played some of their best defense in the third quarter.
Cobb hit a pair of free throws and later, senior Kelsey Wilson drove to the basket, scored and was fouled. She completed the old-fashioned three-point play to make it 17-14 with 3:19 to play in the third.
The teams traded scores the remainder of the period, as Athens’ lead stayed between three and five points.
It was 23-18 in favor of Athens as the fourth quarter got underway.
Schwenk, who had a rebound and stick-back in the third quarter, had another offensive rebound and bucket to start the fourth quarter.
It seemed like whenever Miami Trace would score, Athens always had an answer, keeping the Lady Panthers at bay.
The Athens lead went from three points to five and back to three.
As the time ebbed away, Athens added on a point here and a point there to slowly, but steadily, increase their lead, first to six points, then eight, then nine points with one minute remaining.
Miami Trace did not score another field goal after Cobb’s bucket at the 5:10 mark of the fourth quarter.
Doseck closed out the scoring for Athens with a pair of free throws with 39 seconds to play for the final, 34-23.
“That’s a quality ball club,” Athens head coach Wayne Horsley said of the Lady Panthers. “Coach (Ben) Ackley’s done a very, very good job with them.
“Coming in, I knew this game was going to play out just like it did,” Horsley said. “We play pretty good defense; his girls play very good defense. We were just able to hang on and get some shots to fall for us and that was the difference tonight.
“I have the utmost respect for what coach Ackley and his staff have done,” Horsley said. “They’re well-coached, very fundamental. We’re just happy to get out of here with the win.”
What about a second game against Jackson, the only team to defeat Athens this season, with a District championship on the line?
“That’s who’s next on the bracket,” Horsley said. “So, we’ll just have to get ready and take our best shot at them Wednesday night.”
Miami Trace says thank you and farewell to its six seniors: Josie Cobb, Arianna Mabra, Ashley Henry, Abby Schwenk, Heather Johnston and Kelsey Wilson. (Senior Josina Bothe did not dress for this game.)
“It was extremely tough (in the locker room after the game),” Ackley said. “They’re extremely upset and disappointed. All of these kids have just fought so hard. It’s tough looking into their eyes. They are going to be successful. They’re going to win way more in life than they did in basketball and that’s saying something, because they’re batting about .750 as players in high school.
“They’re all going on to college,” Ackley said. “They’re a great group of kids.”
Ackley gave kudos to the many, including the Panther fans, the parents of his players, his parents and his coaches, to name but a few.
“I want to thank my staff,” Ackley said. “Coach (Dennis) Overstake came in and he’s been a God-send. I’ve learned so much from him. Coach (Randy) Welsh and coach (Jeff) King have worked so hard. This is their second year with me.
“We’ll take 28 days off and we’ll be right back at it,” Ackley said. “We’ll take the dead period off in August and then we’ll be right back at it.
“Tradition never graduates,” Ackley said. “Now the challenge is for our younger kids to step up to the plate and carry this proud tradition forward.”
Miami Trace finishes the 2013-14 season with an overall record of 19-5. The Lady Panthers were 10-2 in the SCOL, good for second place to undefeated Clinton-Massie.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT8 1 9 5 — 23
A9 8 6 11 — 34
MIAMI TRACE — Kyla Johnston 0-0-0; Ashley Henry 0-0-0; Brooklyne Baldwin 0-0-0; Hanna Reisinger 0-0-0; Josie Cobb 2 (2)-2-12; Kelsey Wilson 1-1-3; Arianna Mabra 0-1-1; Abby Schwenk 3-1-7. TOTALS — 6 (2)-5-23. Free throw shooting: 5 of 7 for 71 percent. Three-point field goals: Cobb, 2. Combined field goal shooting: 8 of 40 for 20 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 2 of 14 for 14 percent. Turnovers: 14.
ATHENS — Sara Skinner 0-0-0; Olivia Harris 1-0-2; Elyse Lutz 0-0-0; Dominique Doseck 2 (1)-11-18; Hannah DeBruin 4-0-8; Alexis McCollum 0-0-0; Mikala Perry 0-0-0; Rachael Gilkey 2-2-6. TOTALS — 9 (1)-13-34. Free throw shooting: 13 of 17 for 76 percent. Three-point field goal; Doseck. Combined field goal shooting: 10 of 40 for 25 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 1 of 11 for 9 percent. Turnovers: 9.
Stats all season have been provided by Miami Trace scorekeeper, Karl Kellenberger.