SIDNEY – Mississinawa Valley’s season ended Tuesday as the Blackhawks lost 65-22 to Jackson Center, who last year represented Southwest Ohio in the state final four.
The Hawks started off well in their Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament opener, Mississinawa Valley girls basketball coach John Hershey said, but they simply couldn’t match the depth and talent of the top seeded team in the Sidney sectional.
“They’ve got a really deep bench,” Hershey said. “It seemed like every time I turned around there was a new set of girls out there. But I thought we started out real well. We stuck to the game plan.”
Jackson Center led for almost 31 minutes on Tuesday and never trailed in the game. Mississinawa Valley was able to briefly tie the game early in the first quarter when Kelsie Hunt scored to knot the score at 2-2.
From there Jackson Center began to pull away with Kamryn Elchert leading the way. The Jackson Center senior made five of her seven 3-pointers in the first quarter to help the Tigers pull ahead 24-9 by the end of the opening quarter.
“I played a diamond and one on 24 (Cassie Meyer) because the two films that I watched she was the one that was lighting it all up,” Hershey said. “Then come out and then 22 (Elchert) is the one doing it so that kind of threw me a little, too. The idea was to let them have that corner shot. I’ve not seen them make a lot of them; I’ve seen them take a lot of them. I thought, well, we’ll give up that corner shot and try to make sure to keep them off the perimeter and keep that 24 from getting the ball. And of course the one thing that could blow that up is 22 hitting from that corner all day, and that’s exactly what ended up happening.”
Elchert made seven of her 10 3-point attempts on Tuesday. And while Mississinawa Valley had to try to stop Elchert on the outside, the Blackhawks also had to try to contain a pair of 6-foot 2-inch Jackson Center players inside who helped the Tigers outscore the Hawks 34-6 in the paint and 13-0 on second-chance opportunities.
In the second quarter Kelsie Hunt scored all 4 of Mississinawa Valley’s points as Jackson Center increased its lead to 40-13.
With the depth advantage Jackson Center was able to wear down Mississinawa and force the Blackhawks to play a more up-tempo game, which resulted in the Tigers outscoring the Blackhawks 25-7 in transition and 12-0 on fast-break opportunities.
“As they got tired they started getting into a little more of a transition game with them,” Hershey said.
In the third quarter Sidnie Hunt scored all 5 of Mississinawa Valley’s points while Jackson Center increased its lead to 53-18.
Kelsie Hunt and Mikayla Stump led the Blackhawks in the fourth quarter as the game ended with Jackson Center on top 65-22.
Kelsie Hunt led Mississinawa Valley with 11 points in Tuesday’s game. Also for the Blackhawks, Stump scored 6 points, and Sidnie Hunt scored 5.
Elchert led Jackson Center with a game-high 23 points. Also for the Tigers, Vanessa Winner scored 10 points, Camryn Hoehne scored 8, Christen Ware scored 7, Kennadie Reese scored 6, Miranda Hickey scored 4, Meyer scored 4, and Olivia Clark scored 3.
Mississinawa Valley concluded its season with a 2-21 record with Tuesday’s loss. The loss also ended the high school basketball careers of Mississinawa Valley seniors Kelsie Hunt, Madison Stachler, Mikayla Stump, Kylie Willis and Ana Zappa.
“It’s a good group of girls, hard-working group,” Hershey said. “I’ll miss them. As a coach you kind of get attached with groups as you have them through the years. This was a nice personal group. They always had me laughing.”