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Pine Valley beats Lady Wildcats, 54-47

February 25, 2016
By Cody Crandall - , Westfield Republican

SHERMAN (Feb. 18) - In order to win on the road come playoff time, getting off to a good start, strong defense and veteran leadership are all of the utmost importance.

For No. 5 Pine Valley, Thursday night at Sherman Central School, all three of those key concepts were prevalent against the fourth-seeded Lady Wildcats.

Led by a combined 38 points from seniors Jamie Wilcox (21 points) and Jessica Wilcox (17 points), an 11-4 first quarter and solid defense - Pine Valley held Sherman to under 10 points in the fourth quarter as well - the Lady Panthers took down Sherman, 54-47, in Section 6 Class D girls high school basketball quarterfinal action.

Right from the opening tip, Pine Valley and the Wilcox sisters - the duo scored all 11 of the Lady Panthers' points in the first quarter - imposed their will, while Sherman struggled to find a rhythm.

"We prepared," said Pine Valley head coach Bryelle Cortright, when asked about her team's pivotal 11-4 start to the game. "We really prepared. We focused on what they were going to do offensively, so we were confident defensively."

Sherman played better in the second quarter and even outscored the Lady Panthers, 17-13, but still headed in to the locker room facing a 24-21 deficit.

"We were getting good shots," Sherman coach Mel Swanson said. "We got good shots, we just couldn't get anything to fall early."

However, those shots did start to fall for the Lady Wildcats toward the end of the third quarter. Trailing 34-26, Sherman exploded for a 13-3 run to end the quarter to actually take a 39-37 lead heading into the game's final eight minutes. The big run was keyed by fine play from the likes of Bridget Yaw, who wound up scoring a team-high 19 points and collecting 10 rebounds, Roxanne Toy (13 points and five steals) and Katie Pacy, who drained two 3-pointers during the third-quarter rally.

But, with their backs against the wall, the Lady Panthers didn't panic once they fell behind.

In fact, Pine Valley locked down once again on the defensive end of the court, holding Sherman scoreless for nearly the first five minutes of the decisive fourth quarter.

"We switched defenses," said Cortright. "We went from a man to a zone and that seemed to cause a couple of problems (for Sherman). They still got some shots, but overall, we stopped Yaw from driving and that was one of our biggest downfalls. ...Zoe Nelson stepped up big on the boards and played a great defensive game against Yaw. She stepped up when we needed her to."

While the Lady Panthers were gaining momentum defensively, they also started to execute at a higher level offensively.

Jamie Wilcox, who battled foul trouble throughout the contest, poured in six huge points in the fourth quarter, while Jessica Wilcox added six of her 17 points, as well.

The potent offense of the Wilcox sisters proved to be too much for Sherman down the stretch, as Pine Valley outscored Sherman, 17-8, in the final stanza.

"They are so solid," Swanson said about the difficulties of stopping Jamie and Jessica Wilcox. "Their ball handling is solid, they have good dribble penetration and they can shoot the 3. They are just complete players."

The loss brings an end to a solid season for Sherman. The Lady Wildcats put forth a spirited effort without senior captain Shenley Luden, who was injured, but ultimately came up just short against a talented Pine Valley team.

"They've been fun to coach," Swanson said in regards to this year's team. "Bridget (Yaw) has played five years on varsity. Roxanne has played four (years), Shenley's played four (years), Jurnee's played four (years), so they've been my family for four or five years. ...It's hard to see family go."

Pine Valley, now winners of four in a row, advanced to take on top-seeded Panama - who took down Westfield Thursday night by a score of 71-35 - Wednesday night at Jamestown Community College with a spot in the sectional final on the line.

"I thought that beating Clymer at home last Saturday might've been the springboard for us," Cortright said. "And then getting this win on the road in a very hostile, difficult environment - it's a great win and hopefully it carries over into Panama."

NOTES: Kayla Hohl scored eight big points off the bench for Pine Valley, while Nelson finished with four points and nine rebounds.

Pacy joined Yaw and Toy in double figures for the Lady Wildcats with 10 points.



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