Libby Aleshire
Derrick Webb

Derrick Webb

Derrick is SOSA's chief content coordinator and has worked for the Chillicothe Gazette, the Portsmouth Daily Times and Eleven Warriors. He's a 13-time award-winning journalist, a self-proclaimed baseball purist, a suffering Bengals fan and has never met a stranger.

Miami Trace fights off McClain in conference action for Senior Night win

The Panthers ended the game on a 12-1 run.

Derrick Webb, Staff Writer

WASHINGTON C.H. — Emma Pitstick is still perfect from the free throw line this season.

Miami Trace’s Emma Pitstick shoots free throws at the end of Wednesday’s win over McClain.
CREDIT: Derrick Webb/SOSA

Miami Trace’s senior leader hasn’t misfired on a shot all year — she’s 2-for-2 after Wednesday night.

Pitstick, who suffered a season-ending injury before her senior year could start, put the icing on the cake of a 40-29 win over McClain. With just seconds left, McClain coach Jarrod Haines instructed his players to foul Pitstick so the senior would have a chance to score.

Her first and second points of her senior year are now in the books.

“There was nothing like that moment. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything that emotional before,” Pitstick said “I really want to thank [McClain head coach] Jarrod Haines for that. I don’t think a lot of coaches would’ve let that happen. It was absolutely fantastic.”

Pitstick’s two points were the final of the Panthers’ Senior Night victory over their league rival.

“This is a big game for us, anytime we play [McClain]. I think with [tournament] seeding being done and everything, there was less pressure on us,” senior Libby Aleshire said. “We just kind of came out and played. Everyone played for us seniors. Everyone wanted us to win our last game at home. And this is the first win against Greenfield for [Miami Trace] coach [Kayla] Dettwiller. She’s from there, so that’s a big win for her.”

Tale of the tape

Out of the gates, Miami Trace (7-12, 5-4 FAC) seized a 6-0 lead on the backs of Hillery Jacobs and Mallory Pavey. McClain’s first score came at the 3:02 mark in the first quarter when Iva Easter cut the deficit to 6-2.

McClain’s Evelyn VanZant then scored to make it a 6-4 game before Jacobs dialed long distance, stretching MT’s lead to 9-4. Two free throws from Jessee Stewart and a runner from Jacobs gave the Panthers a 13-6 lead heading into the second.

The Tigers (6-11, 4-5 FAC) continued to experience scoring troubles throughout the next eight minutes. But they turned up the pressure defensively, holding Miami Trace to just five second quarter points. Still, the Panthers managed to expand on their lead to 18-10 at the break.

PHOTOS: Images from Miami Trace’s win over McClain

“We said that we had to come out tonight ready to play and ready to hit it hard,” Pitstick said. “We knew that from the get-go and we wanted to start fast and that it was going to be a battle.”

Aleshire made it a 20-10 game in the third before scoring again with 6:14 left to make it 22-12. But that’s when the lightbulb came on for McClain, with much of the credit going to Easter.

The Tigers’ senior spearheaded an 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 22-20 at the 2:52 mark.

Aleshire hit one of two free throws before Stewart nailed a lay-in to make it a 25-20 tally. But McClain’s Payton Pryor had an answer, closing out the quarter with a bucket and a free throw, sending the game into the fourth with the Panthers leading 25-23.

Trace took a four-point lead, thanks to a jumper from Hillary McCoy, before Haylee Havens and Lily Barnes hit back-to-back buckets to force a 27-27 tie with 6:46 to play.

However, throughout the rest of the quarter, Miami Trace’s defense held McClain to just two free throws. Meanwhile, Stewart, Kaelin Pfeifer and McCoy all added scores to put the Panthers ahead 34-28 with just 1:11 to go.

Simply put, McClain never recovered from that run in an 11-point loss.

“Our defense is the key. When we lose, it’s because we’re not playing good, fundamental defense. We’re going for steals we don’t need at the time or we’re just not boxing out,” Aleshire said. “If we get good defense in our tournament run, we can go pretty far.”

Stat book

Jacobs led the Panthers with 14 points and six rebounds while Aleshire added eight points, five boards and five assists. Stewart finished with six points and two assists, and McCoy added four of her own and four rebounds.

For McClain, Easter scored a team-high 10 points and grabbed three rebounds while Pryor added seven points and five boards. Barnes ended the night with four points and seven rebounds, and Havens tallied four points and six rebounds.

What’s on tap

Miami Trace is back in action on Feb. 2 at East Clinton and finishes its regular season slate with dates at Washington and Lynchburg-Clay. Meanwhile, McClain gets back to it on Saturday, hosting Blanchester.

“I think we can go really far as a team if we play to our potential,” Pitstick said. “I’ve seen us play that way several times. If we play defense, I honestly think we’ll make it pretty far.”

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