WAVERLY — Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a player and realize there’s little to no answer on how to stop them.
In Monday’s case, however, two caps were needed. South Webster’s Bri Claxon and Skylar Zimmerman were both just too much to handle.
The duo combined for 43 points, led by Claxon’s 27, leading the Jeeps (2-1, 2-1 SOC II) to a massive 51-43 road win over Waverly in SOC II action.
“It was definitely a battle, and our kids showed a lot of grit and determination to pull this victory out,” South Webster coach Ryan Dutiel said. “Waverly is a really tough team. They’re long and very athletic, but our kids maintained their composure mostly and didn’t get in too big of a hurry in the big moments.”
Although the Jeeps pulled out the win, things didn’t get off to the cleanest of starts as they started 0-for-6 from the floor.
On the opposite side, the combination of Delaney Tackett and Kelli Stewart set the early tempo for the Tigers.
Tackett ran the offense, dishing off a pair of assists to Stewart for easy buckets at the rim, putting Waverly ahead 6-0.
However, South Webster weathered the early storm and answered with a sizable punch itself.
Behind Claxon and Zimmerman, the duo scored the next 11 points to take a 11-6 lead before closing out the first quarter with an 11-9 lead.
“Our offense was a little bit slow to open the game and it took some time to find out what was going to work for us,” Dutiel said. “We didn’t come out with the intensity that we wanted.”
Turnovers and missed shots began to rack up for both teams in the second. However, Claxon kept the Jeeps ahead 19-14, scoring 13 of those points herself.
Although Waverly (3-2, 2-2 SOC II) scored seven of the final nine points in the frame, the Jeeps still held a 21-19 lead at halftime.
The Tigers managed to narrow the deficit to 27-24, but couldn’t seem to get out of its own way. The turnovers continued to pile up, and the Jeeps went on a 7-0 run to push the lead to double digits at 34-24.
However, Waverly fed Bailey Vulgamore the ball and the junior guard proceeded to lead her taeam on an 8-0 run to trim the lead to 34-32 just minutes into the fourth.
South Webster always had an answer, though. Behind the hustle on the offensive glass from Bella Claxon and Riley Raynard, Zimmerman and Bri Claxon scored the next eight Jeep points, pushing the lead back up to 42-36.
“They are our go-to players. Both are natural athletes and really good ball players,” Dutiel said. “In any pressure situations, we want the ball in one of their hands and we know they’ll make a play of some sorts. They know and understand the game really well, and have the ability to create shots for themselves as well as their teammates.”
On the next possession down the floor, after some solid ball movement, Raynard buried a triple to create enough distance to close out for the win.
“Bella and Riley each have their roles, and they give 110 percent at all times,” Dutiel said. “Bella is a lot more physical underneath so we use that as much as we can to crash the boards, while Riley can shoot and she has the green light to let it fly. She hit that shot and I thought that was the boost of confidence we needed to get us through and get the win.”
Claxon had 27 poinst and Zimmerman finished with 16 on the evening for South Webster.
For Waverly, Kelli Stewart finished with 16 points and six rebounds while Vulgamore ended with 11 points. Sarah Thompson added eight points and 11 rebounds.
South Webster returns to action on Thursday at Minford in SOC II action, while Waverly travels to Eastern on Monday.