MORRISTOWN - It was by no means a work of art.
That doesn't matter one bit to the Barnesville Lady Shamrocks.
Using a strong second half and impressive post play from freshman Shayla Markovich, the Lady Shamrocks advanced to the upper bracket sectional co-final with a 57-48 victory against St. John Central Saturday night at Union Local High School.
ST. JOHN Central’s Kristen Russell (24) shoots over top of Barnesville’s Sydney Ralston (3) during Saturday night’s Division IV sectional game at Union Local. The Shamrocks won. Additional images can be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
"I am very proud of my kids," said Barnesville head coach Jamie Carpenter. "That's a good ball team, with 15 wins, that we beat. We had a lot of kids without much varsity experience step up for us tonight."
The Lady Shamrocks (8-15) will next meet Shadyside, which cruised past Caldwell in the opening game of the twinbill. That contest is slated for 6 p.m. Thursday evening with the winner earning a trip to the district tournament at New Philadelphia High School.
Carpenter and his team will go to work immediately to prepare for the Lady Tigers.
The first step in the preparation?
"I think we may go home and watch 'Hoosiers,'" Carpenter joked. "We realize it's going to be a tough test, but we're happy to at least have the chance."
Before attention could be shifted to Shadyside, the Lady Shamrocks had to deal with the Irish, who hadn't played since dropping the OVAC Class 1A final last weekend.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout. St. John (15-8) led, 17-15 after one and 28-27 at the intermission.
The Lady Shamrocks began to take control in the third period when they outscored St. John, 10-8 to take a 37-36 upperhand into the final chapter.
"We did everything you can do to lose a basketball game," said Lady Irish head coach Bubba Kapral. "Our keys are playing good half-court defense ... we did not; boxing out ... we did not; taking care of the ball ... we did not. We just do some things that are inexplicable on the basketball court. Give Barnesville credit because they played well, but, at times, we made it easy for them."
It was all Lady Shamrocks in the fourth, who forced the Lady Irish into eight turnovers in the period, many of which led to easy chances on the offensive end. In the half-court set, Markovich continued to flex her muscle, scoring six of her 23 in the final chapter.
"Shayla played well on both ends for us," Carpenter said.
Also coming up big for the Lady Shamrocks in the final chapter was Miranda Plumly, who scored seven of her 11.
During the fourth, St. John went some four minutes between points. During that stretch, Barnesville stretched the lead to 52-40 after Sydney Ralston buried the lone Barnesville trey in the contest.
From that point on, St. John never got its deficit under 10.
"We capitalized in transition on some scoring chances, and I thought we worked the ball inside better in the second half," Carpenter said. "I thought Sydney Ralston really played well tonight and Lane Hanlon played her butt off. Seniors, thinking it might be their last game, usually go all out for you. I think we gained confidence in the third, felt the momentum and took it."
Markovich led the Lady Shamrocks with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Plumly also posted a double-double with her aforementioned scoring total and 11 rebounds. Lane Hanlon finished with eight points, while Ralston added seven.
St. John Central was led by hard-working senior Kristen Russell, who finished with 19 points and eight rebounds before fouling out with a shade over four minutes to play.
"That's definitely a tough way for Kristen to go out," Kapral said. "This was the most enjoyable year we've had without one bit of drama and it's because of Kristen and Kaydie (Coppa). They are the two best seniors we've had."
Coppa finished with nine points as did talented frosh Marissa Rose.
ST. JOHN (48) - Russell 7, 4-8 19; Froehlich 1, 2-2 4; Coppa 4, 0-0 9; Rose 3, 3-7 9; Alvey 2, 0-0 5; LeMasters 0, 0-0 0; Sliva 1, 0-0 2; Totals: 18, 9-17 48. BARNESVILLE (57) - Bruce 1, 0-0 2; Plumly 4, 3-5 11; Hanlon 4, 0-0 8; Bahmer 1, 0-0 2; Markovich 8, 7-12 23; Broomhall 1, 2-2 4; Ralston 3, 0-0 7; Huntsman 0, 0-0 0; Totals: 22, 12-19 57.
Three-Point Goals: SJC - Russell, Coppa. B - Ralston.
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