Shadyside girls are State Bound

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY SHADYSIDE SENIORS Jaycee Mayeres, Macy Coffland, Syd Destifanes and Haleigh Osman hoist the regional championship trophy after Saturday night's 55-45 victory against Peebles at Pickerington North

PICKERINGTON — State bound!

For the fourth time in school history and first time since 2011, the Shadyside Lady Tigers are members of the OHSAA’s Final Four.

By virtue of their 55-45 victory over Peebles Saturday night at Pickerington North High School, Shadyside punched its ticket to a Friday state semifinal at the Jerome Schottenstein Center at Ohio State University in Columbus against Ottoville, which was a big winner over Arlington.

“I am just so proud of these girls and how they gutted out another one,” Shadyside head coach Serge Gentile said. “We’re in the Final Four … in the state of Ohio. And that’s a pretty big deal. I can’t wait to get to the Schott.”

Indeed it is.

Shadyside found itself in familiar territory again in the regional championship. It fell behind, 17-9 after one period mostly because of the play of Peebles sophomore Jacey Justice, who scored 13 points.

“I don’t know if it was nerves or what, but once we settled in and made some shots, we played more like ourselves,” Gentile said.

In the second quarter, the Lady Tigers took command of the game thanks to scoring the opening 14 points of the period. Sophomores Baylee Wach and Tory Hendershot got going for the Lady Tigers, scoring 12 of the team’s 18 points. It allowed Shadyside to take a 27-23 lead into the half.

The lead increased to 40-35 after three.

As you’d expect in a regional final, it got tight in the fourth. Peebles actually inched within one, but the Lady Tigers once again showed their resolve.

Freshman Paige Gorby stopped the bleeding with an inside bucket. Wach tallied with a transition trey and that gave the Tigers the breathing room to begin to slow things down.

“It was a total team effort and that’s what is so great about this group,” Gentile said. “We’re all in it together and not one girl is worried about individual accolades.”

Shadyside was able to run more than 90 seconds off the clock before Hendershot, who scored a team-high 19 points, was fouled. She calmly sank both attempts. All told, she was five of six in the final quarter.

After struggling in the fourth at the line against Newark Catholic in the semifinal, Shadyside was much better in the title game. It sank 11-of-18 in the fourth.

Hendershot’s scoring was complemented by Wach’s 16 points. Senior Syd Destifanes had 10 points and once again turned in a strong defensive performance.

“This feels amazing,” Destifanes said. “(Playing in the state tournament) has been a dream of mine since I was a little kid. I can’t wait to get there. I knew we could do this.”

Justice was the lone double-figure scorer for the Indians with 26.