WL-S girls earn first district title since 2001

When you rely on the inside-outside game, you had better make sure you deliver in both phases of that offense.

West Liberty-Salem did, and Cincinnati Madeira didn’t. The result was the Tigers won their first girls basketball district championship since 2001 and second in school history with a 47-38 win over the Amazons in Division III action Saturday at Springfield High School.

WLS will attempt to go further in the postseason than any team in school history by beating Versailles in a regional semifinal matchup at Springfield High on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Madeira opened the game with a full-court press, trying to unnerve WLS in this battle of 19-3 teams. But after an initial steal, it backfired on the Amazons, who committed seven first-quarter turnovers to the Tigers’ two.

Meanwhile, WLS was getting its inside-outside offense into gear as junior Lily Yoder netted eight first-quarter points, including two 3-pointers, and 6-foot-4 senior Jamie Peterson established herself early in the paint with a pair of buckets. The Tigers led 14-11 after one quarter, never trailed and made veteran coach Dennis McIntosh a happy man.

“We upgraded our schedule a little this year to get ready for this time of the year,” said McIntosh, in his 22nd season at the helm. “It may have cost a loss or two during the regular season, but it really helped us today.”

The game was billed as a battle between Madeira 6-foot-2 D-I college recruit Jamie Grob, who will play at Wofford College in the fall, and fellow post Peterson. Grob finished with a team-high 16 points but got in early foul trouble and didn’t play the second quarter, while Peterson offset her with 15 points. Peterson has committed to play volleyball in college.

The problem for Madeira is it had no answer for Yoder, who ended up with a game-high 21 points.

“We knew they had a big kid inside to offset Jamie,” said McIntosh. “We thought we were going to have to hit some big shots to win it.

“For the whole game, I don’t think we got into a real good flow on offense,“ he continued. “We just made the plays when we had to.”

The Tigers led by as many as six points in the second quarter, leading 23-19 at the half, and were beginning to pull away in the third when a 6-0 Madeira run cut the lead to two. But key 3-pointers from Yoder and Gabby Hollar at the end of the stanza pushed the lead back out to 33-25 after three.

The Amazons never got closer than seven in the final eight minutes, and that was because of a Tigers defense that McIntosh feels is a little underrated.

“Defensively in the second half we did a really good job of not getting into a running game with them,” said McIntosh of the Amazons, who averaged over 60 points per game in the regular season. “As good as we are offensively at times, our defense is our bread and butter. We made them work, went to the zone and stopped them from penetrating inside.”