Girls basketball: West Liberty-Salem claims share of OHC North title

Cutline1: West Liberty-Salem senior Selena Weaver shoots the ball while be defended by Mechanicsburg's Taylor Rausch (right) and Elyse Wilson (left) during their game on Thursday night in Mechanicsburg. The Tigers won 56-45. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED
Cutline1: West Liberty-Salem senior Selena Weaver shoots the ball while be defended by Mechanicsburg's Taylor Rausch (right) and Elyse Wilson (left) during their game on Thursday night in Mechanicsburg. The Tigers won 56-45. Michael Cooper/CONTRIBUTED

Credit: Michael Cooper

Credit: Michael Cooper

MECHANICSBURG — The West Liberty-Salem High School girls basketball team won the Ohio Heritage Conference North Division championship for the third time in four seasons — and they did it in dominating fashion.

The Division III third-ranked Tigers beat host Mechanicsburg 56-45 on Thursday night to claim at least a share of the OHC North Division championship. They can clinch the league title with a victory over either Cedarville or Northeastern in their final two conference games.

“They put a lot of hard work in considering the summer we were able to have,” said Tigers coach Dennis McIntosh. “To come out and do what we’ve been able to do so far has been really special.”

Senior Selena Weaver scored 21 points and senior Grace Estes added 10 as West Liberty-Salem improved to 18-0 and 14-0 in the division.

“I’m so excited,” Weaver said. “We’ve worked so hard this year. I’m so glad it’s paying off.”

Senior Grace Forrest scored a game-high 23 points and Taylor Rausch added 11 for Mechanicsburg (13-5, 11-2) who won the OHC North title last season.

“We tried to concentrate on Weaver and wanting to put a lot of pressure on them,” said Indians coach Christie Dodane. “We did better at the end of the game, the fourth quarter especially, but at the beginning of the game, we played timid. We were supposed to be pressing from the beginning and they would get the ball in and everybody would run back. I’ve got (senior Grace Forrest) and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. We just need some maturity.”

The Tigers jumped out to a 15-4 first quarter lead and never looked back. They led by as many as 20 in the second half.

“I was really pleased with the way the girls played tonight, especially the way they started,” McIntosh said. “I thought our gameplan on Grace Forrest was really good to start the game. When they started collapsing on Selena, we were able to hit some outside shots and it opened it up for her and she was able to get some inside baskets.”

As the focused on Weaver, her teammates hit eight 3-pointers in the game, including three each by Estes and Aubrey Williams.

“We don’t have anybody close to her size,” Dodane said. “We play hard, but when we would double down (on Weaver), they’ve got four kids who can shoot the 3.”

After losing the title last season, West Liberty-Salem went to work in the summer, focusing on improving skills, Weaver said.

“It was really tough, so it was nice to come back and win it this year,” Estes said.

The Tigers have three regular season games remaining, including a non-conference showdown against Division IV sixth-ranked Xenia Legacy Christian Academy on Saturday afternoon. WLS also earned the top seed in the Division III tournament.

“Hopefully we’ll stay healthy,” McIntosh said. “That’s the biggest worry right now, just making sure we can keep everybody safe and keep ourselves from getting quarantined.”

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