By Garth Shanklin
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Williamsburg Lady Wildcats did just that on Wednesday, Dec. 20.
The team traveled to Wilmington High School to take on the Lady Cane, a team with high postseason aspirations. Williamsburg head coach Mike Madsen was full of praise for his opponent.
“They’re a very good team,” Madsen said. “They’re probably one of the best Division I teams in the region. We just beat a team that’s probably one of the top five teams in the area, if not the top team.”
They weren’t the top team on that particular night, as the Lady Wildcats used a late run to pull away for a 58-45 victory.
Neither team could get any separation from the other early on. Alexis Chase scored all 12 of Williamsburg’s first-quarter points, while Wilmington held a 17-12 lead after one quarter. The Lady Wildcats switched the defense up in the period, which set the stage for the final three quarters.
“We couldn’t match up with them in man,” Madsen said. “Coach [Mandy] Ervin and I were sitting on the bench in the first quarter, we got in a bit of foul trouble. We decided to try a little bit of a zone, a little different than what we’d worked on in the past, a little something they weren’t expecting. It worked. It shut them down.”
Wilmington scored just 11 points in the second period, 10 in the third and seven in the fourth. Meanwhile, Williamsburg put up 15 in the second and held a 38-33 lead late in the third. Wilmington scored the final five points of the quarter to tie the game at 38.
The teams traded baskets until Wilmington made a crucial mistake midway through the fourth period. Leading 46-45, the Lady Cane fouled Williamsburg’s Jessica Chase on a three-point attempt. Chase hit all three, and the Lady Wildcats never looked back, scoring the final 15 points of the game.
Alexis Chase led all scorers with 21 points, each one more crucial than the next.
“She carried us,” Madsen said. “She had our first 12 points of the game. Their fans were calling her a ball hog, but she’s not. We worked the ball around, she’s just the person we’d like to see shooting the ball.”
Jessica Chase added 17, and Peyton Fisher chipped in eight to go with her nine rebounds. She also connected on a three-pointer late in the game that sealed the win for Williamsburg.
“As I told her, I said, to me, that shows the moxie that she has, taking that shot when we’re up eight with two minutes left instead of waiting for fouls,” Madsen said. “She hits that shot, that’s the ballgame. That’s the dagger.”
Paige Fisher snagged 13 rebounds and Emily Brown 10, which prompted praise from her coach.
“Her rebounding was phenomenal,” Madsen said. “We don’t win that game without Brown rebounding.”
Madsen also noted the fact that every player on their team did their job against Wilmington.
“It was a total team effort,” Madsen said. “I’m psyched. I loved every minute of it. These girls are great, I love them to death.”
The Lady Wildcats return to action in the new year with a trip to Blanchester on January 4.