ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The Lady Rebel defense certainly came to the postseason well prepared.
The seventh-seeded South Gallia girls basketball team picked up two dozen steals en route to a 43-20 victory over No. 10 seed Ironton St. Joseph, in the Division IV sectional semifinal on Monday night at Meigs High School.
The Lady Rebels (8-13) never trailed in the contest, scoring the first six points and leading 9-3 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
South Gallia jumped out to a 15-point, 18-3 lead within the opening seven minutes of the second quarter, but the Lady Flyers (9-12) hit a two-pointer in the final minute of the half to make the SGHS lead 18-5 at the break.
St. Joe scored the first two points of the second half, but South Gallia claimed 10 of the next 13 points and headed into the fourth with a 28-10 advantage.
The Lady Rebels outscored SJHS by a 15-to-10 clip over the final eight minutes, sealing the 43-20 victory.
“Defensively we played well,” SGHS head coach Corey Small said. “We expected to come in with the girls a little nervous to start out. We knew the offense would lag behind, but our defense picked it up. We had 24 steals, which I’ll take everyday, but 18-of-58 shooting, you’re not going to win very many games like that. Thank goodness for our defense.”
The 18-of-58 (31 percent) shooting by the Lady Rebels, included 1-of-18 (5.6 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, St. Joe shot 8-of-32 (25 percent) from the field, including 0-of-8 from beyond the arc. At the foul line, SGHS was 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) and SJHS shot 4-of-16 (25 percent).
The victors won the rebounding battle by a narrow 32-to-31 clip, including 11-to-5 on the offensive end. South Gallia committed 23 turnovers, 12 fewer than SJHS, while picking up a 24-to-10 steals advantage. SGHS also claimed a 10-to-7 edge in assists, while St. Joe earned eight of the game’s 10 blocked shots.
SGHS senior Aaliyah Howell led the way for the Lady Rebels with 13 points. Erin Evans and Kiley Stapleton each had eight points in the win, with Evans hitting the team’s only three-pointer and Stapleton grabbing a team-best seven rebounds.
Faith Poling and Alyssa Cremeens both scored four points for South Gallia, while Amaya Howell, Olivia Hornsby and Makayla Waugh recorded two apiece, with Hornsby grabbing six rebounds.
Hornsby had game-highs of five assists and eight steals, while Christine Griffith blocked two shots.
Alyson Johnson led SJHS with six points, followed by Ashley Bartram with five. Emma Whaley and Faith Mahlmeister scored four points apiece, while Lauren Bush had one point in the setback.
Mahlmeister led the Lady Flyers with eight rebounds, followed by Johnson and Bush with seven each. Bartram and Johnson each had two assists, while Kaitlyn Sheridan had a team-high three steals and Johnson rejected three shots.
“It’s nice to get a tournament win, especially for our seniors,” said Small. “They’re a good group of kids and they play extremely hard. We’ll work hard the rest of this week and try to prepare for Federal Hocking.”
South Gallia moves on to Saturday’s sectional final at MHS, where the Lady Rebels will try to erase a pair of regular season setbacks to second-seeded Federal Hocking.
“Federal Hocking is tough, we lost by 16 and 17 the two times we met,” said Small. “We expect them to put a lot of pressure on us, so if we can handle they’re pressure, I think we’ll be okay.”
In the regular season, SGHS dropped a 46-29 decision to FHHS on Dec. 11 in Mercerville, and then lost to the Lady Lancers by a 41-25 count in Stewart on Jan. 22.
South Gallia has now won at least one postseason game in two of the last three years, as well as four of the last six.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.