CHILLICOTHE — The Miami Trace Lady Panthers faced the Chillicothe Lady Cavaliers for the third time this season Wednesday night at Southeastern High School.
The game was for a District championship and a spot in the Regional semifinals in Zanesville Tuesday, March 7.
During the regular season, the top two teams in the South Central Ohio League split their games.
Miami Trace won at Chillicothe on Dec. 14, 38-31 and on Jan. 25, Chillicothe won at Miami Trace, 49-34.
On Wednesday, Miami Trace was able to break open a very tight game to build a 12-point lead with three minutes to play and then had to hold off a late charge by Chillicothe to post a 37-32 victory.
Chillicothe, the defending District champions, end the season with a record of 22-4.
Miami Trace, winners of its first District championship since 2010, improves to 22-4.
It is the fifth District championship for the Lady Panthers in school history. The other District championships came in 2010, 2007, 2005 and 1982.
It is the first District title for head coach Ben Ackley.
Miami Trace junior Victoria Fliehman led her team with 12 points. She also had five rebounds and two steals.
Junior Tanner Bryant scored 10 points and senior Hanna Reisinger had eight points, including two three-point field goals, two rebounds and two assists.
Senior Samantha Ritenour scored two points and led the Lady Panthers with six rebounds.
Freshman Shaylee McDonald scored four points and had three rebounds and one assist and sophomore Cassidy Lovett added one point to go with two rebounds, three assists and one steal.
For Chillicothe, senior Essence Devlin nearly brought her team all the way back in the fourth quarter. She led the game with 13 points and hit her team’s three three-point baskets.
Senior Osh Brown scored six points, freshman Shawnice Smith scored five points, junior Shawnee Smith had four points, senior Shawntel Smith had two points and sophomore Meliah Johnson had two points.
Chillicothe took a four-point lead to start the game.
Ritenour had a rebound and put-back and Reisinger hit a three to give Miami Trace a 5-4 lead with 4:40 to play in the first quarter. The Lady Panthers would hold the lead the remainder of the game.
Bryant scored and Lovett hit a free throw to make it 8-4, Lady Panthers.
Devlin hit two free throws late in the first to put the score at 8-6, Miami Trace, after one quarter of action.
There was even less scoring in the second quarter than in the first.
Miami Trace led by as many as three points and as few as one point.
At the half, it was Miami Trace 13, Chillicothe 12.
Reisinger scored to start the third quarter, quickly answered by Osh Brown.
After a free throw by Chillicothe with 5:16 to play in the third, Fliehman and Reisinger hit back-to-back threes to give Miami Trace an 8-point lead, 23-15.
Chillicothe scored the final five points of the third to leave Miami Trace with a 23-20 lead with eight minutes to play.
The Lady Panthers went on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, with a basket from Bryant and McDonald, then a free throw from Fliehman and a rebound and stick-back by Fliehman for a 30-20 lead with 4:52 to play in the game.
After a bucket from Brown, Fliehman hit a pair of free throws and Bryant scored to give Miami Trace their biggest lead of the game, 12 points at 34-22 with three minutes remaining.
Miami Trace needed nearly every bit of that cushion as the Lady Cavs had one final run at the Lady Panthers.
Brown scored, then Devlin hit a three.
Bryant responded with a basket and Devlin scored again to make it 36-29 with 41 seconds remaining.
Miami Trace missed the front end of a one-and-one and Devlin hit another three to make it 36-32 with 22 seconds to play.
Fliehman hit a final free throw with seven seconds to put the final score at 37-32.
“The second game we played against Chillicothe, Vic was 2 of 16 from the floor; she didn’t have one of her better games, offensively,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Ackley said. “She’s always smart and gives you a great floor game. Tonight, she was huge for us.
“I thought it was a complete team effort, which is what you need at this stage of the game,” Ackley said. “Chillicothe is so well-coached and so athletic, they put you in so many bad spots. They definitely did that tonight. We were just fortunate to see the ball fall.
“I thought the difference in the game was their shots began to fall with a minute-and-a-half to go in the game,” Ackley said. “We had built a little cushion there. We have to do a better job at the foul line, but that’s something we can address. We’re just glad to be moving on.”
Miami Trace was 10 of 17 from the foul line for 59 percent. Chillicothe made 3 of 5 shots from the line for 60 percent.
Miami Trace shot 38 percent from the field (12 of 32). Chillicothe was 13 of 38 from the floor for 34 percent.
Both teams made three three-point field goals.
Miami Trace’s next opponent is to be determined, but it will be someone from the East District.
Wednesday night, Minerva beat Zanesville Maysville, 54-49 and New Philadelphia defeated Dover, 59-41.
Minerva will play New Philadelphia for the District championship Saturday at 1 p.m. at Sandy Valley High School. Miami Trace will play the winner of that game in the Regional semifinals Tuesday, March 7 at 6:15 p.m. at Zanesville High School.
Check with Miami Trace High School today and Friday, as well as Monday and perhaps early Tuesday for tickets.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 8 5 10 14 — 37
C 6 6 8 12 — 32
MIAMI TRACE — Olivia Wolffe 0-0-0; Cassidy Lovett 0-1-1; Hanna Reisinger 1 (2)-0-8; Shaylee McDonald 1-2-4; Morgan Miller 0-0-0; Victoria Fliehman 1 (1)-7-12; Tanner Bryant 5-0-10; Samantha Ritenour 1-0-2. TOTALS — 9 (3)-10-37. Free throw shooting: 10 of 17 for 59 percent. Three-point field goals: Reisinger, 2; Fliehman. Combined field goal shooting: 12 of 32 for 38 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 9 for 33 percent. Rebounds: 20 (7 offensive). Assists: 7. Steals: 3. Personal fouls: 10. Turnovers: 14.
CHILLICOTHE — McKenzie Green 0-0-0; Meliah Johnson 1-0-2; Shawnee Smith 2-0-4; Shawntel Smith 1-0-2; Essence Devlin 1 (3)-2-13; Shawnice Smith 2-1-5; Osh Brown 3-0-6. TOTALS — 10 (3)-3-32. Free throw shooting: 3 of 5 for 60 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: Devlin, 3. Combined field goal shooting: 13 of 38 for 34 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 15 for 30 percent. Offensive rebounds: 7. Turnovers: 15.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1