MORRISTOWN - A pair of girls' high school basketball teams with depleted rosters for one reason or another met Monday night inside 'The Hanger' in a game with huge Wheeling Hospital OVAC Playoff implications on the line.
With last night being the cut-off date for games to count for the upcoming tournament, Indian Creek and Union Local, both of which entered the game sitting on the proverbial bubble as the fourth-ranked teams in Class 5A and 4A, respectively, needed a win to qualify.
After 32 minutes of back-and-forth action, it was the Redskins from Jefferson County pulling away at the end for a 41-38 decision over the homestanding Jets (12-6).
Union Local’s Mikayla Patton (33) goes up for a rebound in between Creek’s Madison Smith (2) and Ashley Durbin (21) on Monday.
"This is definitely a big win considering the lineup that we did it with," Indian Creek head coach Erin DeSantis said. "That just goes to show you that playing the younger kids a lot early on has paid off. A month ago we probably wouldn't have won that game."
Union Local held a very slim lead over fifth-place Oak Glen, which defeated Steubenville Central last night, for the final playoff berth. Those pairings will be announced later today on the OVAC Basketball Committee. The Jets were one of the highest scoring teams in the conference, but not last night, which befuddled first-year head coach Kelly Hanlon.
"We haven't scored that low all season," Hanlon said of her team's 38-point effort. "It's not that we didn't have the opportunities, our shots just did not fall tonight. There were some times when we had poor shot selection, but not that many."
It looked as though the injury-riddled Jets were going to post a repeat Buckeye 8 victory roared to a pair of 8-point leads in the first quarter only to see Indian Creek cut it to 12-11 after one period.
Union Local went the final 2:57 of the first frame without denting its side of the scoreboard, and then went ice-cold from the floor for the first 3:36 of the second quarter, but only trailed 15-14.
After a pair of Bethany Davis free throws put the Redskins ahead 17-14, the hosts went on an 8-2 spurt to end the half on top, 22-19.
Junior center Mikayla Patton sparked the rally with five points, while classmate Alli Delaney knocked down a three-pointer.
Neither team made much noise in the third quarter when they teamed for 12 points, with Union Local - which led by five twice in the period - leading 27-26. In fact, the Jets held a 27-22 advantage before going scoreless the final 4:53.
That drought carried over until the 5:17 mark of the final stanza when freshman Saige Butler dialed long distance to tie things at 30.
However, that's when the Kiarra Kamarec Show began. The Redskins' silky smooth 6-3 senior took over at both ends of the floor. She scored 13 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter on a variety of left-handed moves. She also snagged four of her game-best 11 rebounds.
"That's the whole point of having a team," DeSantis said of Kamarec's effort. "It's not about one player, and at that point in the game we could've done two things. We could've panicked, but we didn't. I thought we responded pretty well."
While Kamarec was scoring at an alarming rate, Union Local couldn't have found the ocean with a beachball from the pier.
"I don't know how to explain it," Hanlon said of her team's 14 of 50 effort from the field, which included a meager 5-for-18 showing from behind the bonus arc. "We just couldn't make a shot."
In all fairness, the Jets aren't the same team without the services of junior guard Amanda Swallie, who tore her medial meniscus last week against Martins Ferry and will require surgery.
"Not to take anything away from Indian Creek, but we had no fastbreak without Amanda. We had no transition game. It really hurts not having her in there."
Delaney led UL with 11 points, two more than senior Cori Medley. Patton finished with seven and a team-high nine rebounds.
Davis backed Kamarec's output with nine points.
Indian Creek played without the services of 6-5 senior Bre Berryman, senior point guard Brooke Mains; junior Jenna Callahan; and senior Kristen Shimko.
There was no JV game contested.
INDIAN CREEK (41) - Kamarec 9 2-3 22; Davis 3 3-4 9; Durbin 2 0-0 4; Smith 0 0-0 0; Celestin 2 0-0 4; Schmitt 0 0-0 0; Slappy 0 0-0 0; Taylor 0 0-0 0; Whitaker 1 0-0 2; Totals: 17-41 5-7. UNION LOCAL (38) - Medley 4 1-2 9; Russell 2 0-0 5; Delaney 3 2-2 11; Patton 3 1-4 7; Butler 1 0-0 3; Clark-Patterson 0 1-4 1; Collins 1 0-2 2; Totals: 14-50 5-14.
Three-Point Goals: Indian Creek 2 (Kamarec 2); Union Local 5 (Delaney 3, Russell, Butler)