Jonathan Alder’s Jillian Jaske goes up for a basket against Lakewood Tuesday evening at Groveport-Madison High School. Jaske scored 14 as the Lady Pioneers won, 66-54, in the Division II district semifinals.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Sam Dillon)
Seedings for tournament basketball games can be pretty misleading.
The Lady Lancers of Hebron Lakewood were a prime example of that.
The Licking County team went into Tuesday’s Division II district semifinal contest against Jonathan Alder rated as the 18th-best squad in the brackets.
“They were way under-seeded,” said JA coach Steve Cawley after his team fought off the pesky Lancers to win, 66-54.
Cawley said that at the time of the drawing, some schools in the district from the same league over-seeded each other.
That, he claimed, dropped Lakewood down to the lower echelon of the tournament.
Lakewood gave the fourth-seeded Lady Pioneers all they could handle before JA was able to really seal the deal with some free throws during the fourth quarter.
“Lakewood beat two higher-seeded teams (No. 15 Columbus Independence and fifth-ranked London),” said Cawley.
Alder was exposed to a variety of zone defenses on Tuesday, but the JA boss didn’t feel that hampered his squad.
“We’ve seen a lot of zone defenses this year,” he said.
Lakewood kept switching between 3-2, 2-3 and 1-3-1 looks, but the Lady Pioneers were able to exploit them.
“They were at times playing a soft zone,” said Cawley.
That, in turn, allowed Jillian Jaske to shine.
Jaske, Alder’s junior post player, tallies most of her points by doing the dirty work on the low block and cleaning up on the glass.
Jaske got several baskets that way against the Lancers, but also was able to step out and hit jumpers against the zone.
“Jillian is actually a pretty good shooter from 17 feet and on in,” said Cawley. “Their zone gave her some open looks and that was huge.”
The game was tightly played during the first period.
Lakewood took an 11-10 edge on a three-pointer by Mickayla Malone and added a couple of points on a bucket from Alexa Cummins.
Sydney Bourquin came up with a steal off JA’s press and fed the ball to Melissa Walbom.
The Lancers were whistle for a foul on the play.
Walbom’s charity toss deadlocked the game at 13.
Abby Jones drilled a three-pointer and Bourquin hit a late bucket to send Alder into the second quarter with an 18-13 margin.
Jumpers from Mary Ferrito and Emma Shepherd opened a 24-15 lead for the Lady Pioneers (18-6) a couple of minutes into the ensuing stanza.
Jones later fed the ball on the low block to Ferrito for a 26-17 margin.
The Lancers, who knocked down 11 trifectas on the night, notched buckets from beyond the arc by Bella Findlay and Madison Linn.
As such, Lakewood climbed to within 28-24 with 2:32 remaining in the half.
Jaske scored on a stickback.
Ferrito then benefitted from a pass by Bourquin to send Alder into the break with a 32-24 lead.
The Lancers refused to wave the white flag of surrender during the third quarter.
Three-balls from Findlay and Cummins narrowed Lakewood’s deficit to 37-33 with 5:03 on the timer.
Cummins’ next trifecta sliced the gap to 41-39 with slightly less than three minutes left in the period.
The Lady Pioneers, though, had an answer each time the Lancers threatened.
Ferrito and Bourquin each tallied baskets.
Bourquin added a pair of free throws, sending JA into the final set with a 49-44 lead.
Walbom buried three of her game-high 20 points to start the fourth quarter and then added a bucket for a 54-46 JA advantage.
The Lancers kept up the fierce fight despite battling Alder’s press.
Linn dialed in from beyond the arc and whittled the margin to 56-51 with slightly more than three minutes to play.
Once again, the Lady Pioneers responded.
Walbom scored after a steal by Jaske.
Ferrito began pounding the final nail in Lakewood’s coffin with a basket that gave JA a 60-51 margin with 1:48 on the timer.
The Lancers didn’t help themselves by not attacking Alder’s man defense.
Any such tactic might have drawn fouls and allowed them to score with the clock stopped.
Lakewood made only six trips to the foul line during the game and hit three.
The Lady Pioneers, on the other hand, were perfect on all 10 of their charity tosses, including shots by Walbom and Bourquin that finished the job.
“That (the free throw line) was a big difference,” said Cawley.
If there was one factor in the game that made the Alder coach a bit uncomfortable, it was in rebounding.
The Lancers were able to get several second and even third-shot opportunities on the boards. A number of those offerings, though, failed to find the mark.
“Some of those rebounds were long and went over our heads,” said Cawley. “That’s something we’ll have to clean up, but I think we will.”
With the victory, the Lady Pioneers will move to the district championship game on Friday.
They will travel to Westerville Central High School for an 8:30 p.m. tip-off against No. 14-seed Bloom Carroll.
The Bulldogs upset third-seeded Big Walnut, 44-42, on Tuesday for the right to advance to the title contest.
Walbom 7-5-20, Ferrito 8-1-17, Jaske 7-0-14, Bourquin 2-4-8, Jones 2-0-5, Shepherd 1-0-2, S. Bushong 0-0-0, Zawodny 0-0-0, Wilson 0-0-0, Moser 0-0-0. Totals. Totals 27-10-66.
Three-point goals Walbom 1, Jones 1.
Findlay 5-3-18, Linn 7-0-16, Cummins 4-0-10, Malone 2-0-6, Martindale 2-0-4, Davis 0-0-0, Tittle 0-0-0. Totals 20-3-54.
Three-point goals: Findlay 5, Linn 2, Cummins 2, Malone 2.
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