Bri Claxon
Tyler Hart

Tyler Hart

Claxon, South Webster oust Paint Valley to reach district championship

The Jeeps will now meet with Trimble in a Division IV district final.

Tyler Hart, Contributor

PIKETON — Not many teams have been able to hold South Webster’s Bri Claxon in check throughout her storied four-year career.

South Webster’s Bella Claxon looks for a teammate during the Jeeps’ win over Paint Valley.
CREDIT: Marissa Spradlin/SOSA

The senior’s ability to create her own shot at opportune times has lifted her to the forefront of every one of her opponent’s game plans. However, she still goes about business as usual.

Saturday’s story followed a similar outline as Claxon poured in 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting. That performance, alongside the efforts of teammates Skylar Zimmerman and Faith Maloney, led South Webster (19-4) to a 64-51 win over Paint Valley in a Division IV district semifinal.

“She is the best player I’ve ever seen,” South Webster coach Ryan Dutiel said. “She can make something out of nothing. This year, she’s elevated her game so much and has taken this team on her shoulders. Tonight, Skylar stepped up early with a couple 3-pointers and Faith came on down the stretch. Faith is really that rock-solid team leader that we call for in our seniors.”

The Jeeps, who held an eight-to-nine-point lead throughout most of the contest, topped a Bearcats team that came into the matchup on quite the hot streak. Paint Valley (19-5) had won six straight games with their last loss coming on Jan. 29.

Still, South Webster found a way to negate that momentum.

“From watching [PV], we kind of determined that we had to keep them spread apart,” Dutiel said. “We tried to set some screens early and they edged so hard that we had to open them up and try to put them in a one-on-one situation. We felt like if we did that, that we had the advantage of having Bri and Sky. It was obviously a leap of faith.”

Tale of the tape

South Webster jumped out to an early 6-0 lead behind Zimmerman, who drilled two 3-point shots. Paint Valley’s Olivia Smith scored with a put-back effort before Abbi Stanforth sank a triple from the right wing to put the Bearcats on the board.

Claxon made her presence known early and often while stacking the stat sheet with points and assists. After missing her first three attempts, she would end the first quarter with seven points, pacing the Jeeps to a 15-5 lead after one.


PHOTOS: Images from South Webster’s win over Paint Valley


Paint Valley answered with Smith and Hannah Uhrig, who helped their teammates outscore the Jeeps by a 12-10 margin in the second, producing a halftime tally of 25-17 in SW’s favor.

The Bearcats continued to find their stride in the third and managed to cut the deficit to four points. That was an effort led by Uhrig, who dropped her second 3-pointer of the night, and Smith, who took full control underneath the rim.

However, South Webster stretched the lead to 33-24 with 4:43 left in the third. That lead, for the most part, stayed intact as the Jeeps took a 44-34 lead into the final eight minutes.

The Bearcats made a final run at things in the fourth, starting the quarter on a 13-5 run to cut the deficit to 49-47.

However, Claxon took that opportunity to steal the show once again.

The senior stole three straight passes and scored in transition on each, stretching the lead back to eight points. In total, over the final 2:57, South Webster held the Bearcats to just two points.

Meanwhile, Claxon scored 10 points in the final frame while Zimmerman knocked down her fourth triple of the evening. Riley Raynard also helped out, knocking down a 3 and hitting a pair of foul shots to put away a 13-point win.

“We just told the girls that they must stay focused on our mission. We wanted to win every quarter,” Dutiel said. “We weren’t executing and were letting our emotions get the best of us. So we gathered them when I took a timeout and challenged them to really stay focused. I was proud of how they responded.”

Stat book

Claxon ended the night with 29 points alongside three assists and four steals. Zimmerman added 15 points and six rebounds, and Maloney had 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Smith led Paint Valley with 20 points and nine boards, Stanforth added 17 points, and Uhrig ended with nine points and six rebounds.

What’s on tap

While Paint Valley’s season comes to an end, South Webster will meet with Trimble in a Division IV district final at 6:30 p.m. on Friday at Piketon.

The Jeeps beat the Tomcats by a 58-56 final on Jan. 22. But that doesn’t mean a tall task doesn’t lie ahead.

“We knew what Paint Valley brought to the table and we were trying to negate those strengths each possession. We were trying to find open teammates when they forced the double team,” Dutiel said. “I’m really proud of their focus. They were playing as one unit and they had a purpose.”

BOX SCORE

Paint Valley: 5-12-17-17 — 51

South Webster: 15-10-19-20 — 64

Paint Valley: 19-43 FG, 6-8 FT, 7-13 3pt., 22 rebounds (Smith 9), 20 turnovers, 4 assists (McFadden 4). Scoring: Smith 20, Stanforth 17, Uhrig 9, Dye 3, McFadden 2.

South Webster: 25-54 FG, 6-8 FT, 8-20 3pt., 29 rebounds (Maloney 13), 15 turnovers, 10 assists (Zimmerman 3, Bri Claxon 3). Scoring: Bri Claxon 29, Zimmerman 15, Maloney 10, Bella Claxon 5.

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