Creek girls get long-awaited sectional victory
WINTERSVILLE — After playing somewhat sloppy on the defensive end early in the first quarter and seeing a quick six-point lead reduced to one, something simply started to click for the Indian Creek girls basketball team.
Maybe it was simply shaking off the rust after 12 days away from game action due to the ever-changing schedule and winter weather putting the kibosh on games.
Maybe it was thinking of home sectional heartbreaks the past three seasons and being determined not to allow them to be repeated.
It may have been tapping into the experience of a group of seniors that had simply been there before.
Whatever it was, it made all the difference, as the No. 2 seed Redskins’ talented group found its game and didn’t look back, using high-pressure defense and big scoring runs to make easy work of a young but fiesty 17th-seeded Meadowbrook team in Saturday’s Division II, East 2 District sectional final, 75-31.
“Defensively, we came out a little rusty,,” Indian Creek head coach Steve Eft said. “We were gambling a little too much, our close-outs were sloppy. But, after that first quarter, we settled in and got our legs under us.
“After a long layoff, I was little concerned with how we would start. Offensively, we started fine. Defensively the start was a little shaky, but once the girls settled in, they really played a nice game.”
The Redskins (17-3) hosted each of the last three sectional finals prior to this season, falling in all three, including by just four and three points the last two seasons. Under Eft the past two seasons, this group of seniors had been 1-2 in tournament games overall going into Saturday.
Those past letdowns were put in the rear view mirrors and far in the past, as they climbed the ladder to cut down the nets Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling for me, it’s a great feeling for them,” Eft said. “They finally got that monkey off their back. We have fallen short in this game two years in a row. It’s just really nice to come out with a win and be able to move up. I’m just super excited for them to finally get to the cut down the nets after winning the sectional.”
Eft felt the experience gained playing in those past close games paid dividends Saturday.
“The girls were really focused all week at practice. I told them there is not more pressure, play with a little more urgency and focus and good things are going to happen to us this postseason,” he said.
On the flip side, Meadowbrook (5-17) had just two seniors and started multiple freshmen.
“The youth we have still shows at times,” Colts head coach Teryn Jarrett said. “We’re 22 games in, but at the end of the day, when you see a team like that with five seniors that have clearly played together for a while and are in the groove, it’s tough. This game is played so quickly, five can quickly turn into 15 or 20 in a couple possessions.
“I give a lot of credit to (Creek). They’re a great team, and you can tell they have a lot of experience. They’re very fluid and very successful at what they do.”
Not surprisingly, as it has been much of the past three seasons, the dynamic duo of Kylie Kiger and Taylor Jones led the way. Kiger connected on five bombs from the beyond the arc and finished with a a game-high 23 points to go with four assists and four rebounds. Jones recorded a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 10 rebounds – both doing most of their damage in three quarters of action, including a third quarter played under a running clock.
“It was good to Kylie shoot it well. It’s huge for us to get her going,” Eft said. “Her and Taylor have been huge all year.”
It was far from just those two, though, as each of the Creek starters registered at least six points in the opening half. Hailey Clark racked up 13 points and dished out a game-high five assists, Makenzie Taylor went for eight points, four assists and seven rebounds. Abby Copeland finished with six points.
“Clark has stepped it up for us this year,” Eft said. “Defensively, she’s always been a great player, even more so this year. Offensively, she’s gotten much better. Makenzie had a tough day offensively, but she did a lot of good things defensively and rebounding.
“Copeland does not get enough credit. She is like a fifth man that does all the dirty work for us. She guards the best player at all times, she is one of our best defenders and does everything we need her to do. She gets overlooked a lot because she doesn’t get the numbers, but she is a huge part of this team.”
After coming out flying and scoring the first six points of the game, a couple of Redksin turnovers put the Colts right back in it at 6-5. That five-point burst, however, proved to be the last time an upset seemed possible.
The Redskins scored the next five, eventually going on a 20-8 run to close the opening quarter, in which Kiger had 12 points and the Colts turned the ball over 10 times – almost all of which ended with at least two on the board for the Redskins – with a 26-13 lead.
After trading points early in the second, the Redskins began to get rolling again, prompting a timeout by Jarrett. It did not succeed in slowing down Creek, though, as the run that would follow carried clear into the third quarter.
The Redskins scored the final 10 points of the first half, then scored the first 12 of the third quarter for a 22-0 run that spanned well over five minutes of game time.
If there was any glimmer of doubt about the outcome, it ended with that run. The clock only stopped again before the fourth began.
“They called timeout, and we were up 12. We got a nice run coming out of that timeout to put us (up 21),” Eft said. “Then, that just continued right through the half. We had two really nice runs before the half to go into the locker room with the momentum. And, I was really happy with how we came out the locker room playing aggressive. It was a really complete game.”
After outpacing the Colts, 20-2, in the third, Kiger, Jones, Taylor, Clark and Copeland all received ovations from the limited capacity crowd when they left the floor in the fourth.
On top of the lopsided score, the Redskins were far better in every category, outrebounding the visitors, 29-9, doubling them in assists, 20-10, and, even with the sloppy start, committing just seven turnovers, while the Colts coughed it up 19 times.
Meadowbrook’s efforts were led by Karly Launder’s 12 points.
THEY MEET AGAIN
Eft did not know it at the time, as the Steubenville-Philo game was still going on when the Redskins were celebrating their victory, but the win earned the Redskins a third meeting with rival Big Red at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Big Red, the No. 11 seed in the bracket, went on the road and upset No. 7 Philo, 52-38.
During the regular season, Indian Creek won both meetings, winning 52-32 on Dec. 14 and 60-37 on Jan. 12.
“They only get harder from here,” Eft said. “Obviously we’re familiar with Steubenville. I told the girls enjoy it now, enjoy it (Sunday) but come back Monday ready to go. We get back to work and start game planning for the next one to be ready to go.”
Indian Creek 75, Meadowbrook 31
Meadowbrook 13 6 2 10 — 31
Indian Creek 26 24 20 5 — 75
MEADOWBROOK (5-17): Norman 3 2-4 8; Launder 4 2-4 12; May 0 0-0 0; Ogle 2 0-0 6; Dudley 2 0-0 5; Lannon 0 0-0 0; Bell 0 0-0 0; Sichina 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11, 4-8; 31.
INDIAN CREEK (17-3): Kiger 9 0-0 23; Taylor 4 0-2 8; Copeland 3 0-0 6; Clark 6 0-0 13; Jones 9 2-2 21; Blackburn 0 0-0 0; Anderson 0 0-0 0; Starkey 2 0-0 4; Ballato 0 0-0 0; Smith 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 33, 2-4; 75.
3-POINT GOALS: Meadowbrook 5 (Launder 2, Ogle 2, Dudley); Indian Creek 7 (Kiger 5, Clark, Jones). ASSISTS: Meadowbrook 10 (Norman 3, Launder 3); Indian Creek 20 (Clark 5). REBOUNDS: Meadowbrook 9 (Dudley 5); Indian Creek 29 (Jones 10). TURNOVERS: Meadowbrook 19; Indian Creek 7.