Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
CHILLICOTHE — Death, taxes and Haley Coleman hitting a mid-range jumper. Those are the three things that are certain in life.
Coleman was as good as she’s ever been in Saturday’s Division III sectional semifinal at Southeastern. And, for whatever reason, no matter how many jumped she knocked down, her teammates always seemed to find her wide open in the corner.
But the superb play of West’s budding sophomore star was just one reason why the Senators were able to execute their game plan. Lexi Deaver played a complete game, Charlie Jo Howard posted a game-high 14 points and Emma Sayre continued to bring it on the defensive end.
That mix led to a 48-37 win over the Panthers — a victory where West won the fourth quarter by a 22-10 margin to slam the door shut.
“I took shots with a lot more confidence whether it was driving to the basket or shooting from midrange,” Coleman said. “And that also led to creating other chances for my teammates.”
Over the course of the past several weeks, West (13-6) has begun to hang its hat on the defensive side.
Those efforts were once again on display Saturday as the Senators held the Panthers to 11-of-40 shooting. In fact, Southeastern tallied just six buckets throughout the evening from inside the 3-point arc.
“Our team is really big on defense, it’s always a huge focus of ours,” Howard said. “This was a really rough game, but we managed to pull through and play well.”
Coleman and Sayre began the night with back-to-back buckets, giving West an early lead. Southeastern’s Cidney Huff then got the Panthers (10-10) on the board with a three-point play at the 4:11 mark in the first quarter.
But in the next 30 seconds, Howard scores twice more, making it an 8-3 ballgame. Gabby Pernell and Macie Graves then led SE on a 5-0 run to tie the score but Howard and Deaver countered with a 5-0 run of their own, putting the Senators ahead 13-8 after one.
Things stayed tight in the second after West built a 22-10 advantage. Huff dialed long distance before Pernell followed suit with 1:50 left, cutting the deficit to 24-16. Huff then ended the half with another triple, making it 24-19 heading into the break.
The Panthers turned their pressure cooker on in the third.
Coleman scores at the 5:59 mark, making it 26-21, but that was the Senators’ lone bucket in the time frame. Graves then went to work, scoring six points in the quarter and putting Southeastern in front 27-26 heading into the final eight minutes.
But as good as the Panthers’ defense was in the third, it was equally as lackluster down the stretch.
Sayre put West back on top at 28-27 before Deaver made it a 32-29 score with 6:06 remaining. Coleman scored on two consecutive trips to push the lead to 37-30 and Deaver and Howard scored, making it 41-32 at the 2:43 mark.
Then, with 1:42 left, Howard sank a triple, stretching the lead to 43-34 and providing the dagger. From there, subs were entered and the Senators celebrated a victory.
“This was a total team effort,” Deaver said. “Everyone scored, but we all facilitated the ball really well since we don’t have that one scorer that just scores the ball; we all can score.”
Howard led the Senators in scoring with 14 points while Coleman added 12 of her own. Deaver ended the day with eight points, six rebounds and six assists while Sayre had five points, five boards and four dimes.
Southeastern was led by Huff with 11 points while Graves added 10 points and six rebounds. Pernell also helped out with eight points and eight rebounds.
The Panthers still have conference games to makeup after the postseason ends. Meanwhile, the Senators advance to a Division III sectional final against Wheelersburg at 7 p.m., Wednesday — the third such matchup this season.
“We’ll definitely have a chip on our shoulder coming into that game,” Deaver said. “Wheelersburg is the only team we’ve lost to twice this season and they are our biggest competition in SOC II play. But we’ll come ready to play.”
West: 13-11-2-22 — 48
Southeastern: 8-11-18-10 — 37
West: 18-48 FG, 10-11 FT, 2-11 3pt., 21 rebounds (Deaver 6), 13 turnovers, 11 assists (Deaver 6). Scoring: Howard 14, Coleman 12, Deaver 8, Sayre 6, Howell 5, Adkins 2, Bennett 1.
Southeastern: 11-40 FG, 10-13 FT, 5-19 3pt., 24 rebounds (Pernell 8), 15 turnovers, 6 assists (Pernell 2). Scoring: Huff 11, Graves 10, Pernell 8, Bailes 4, Ruby 3, Mitten 1.