COVINGTON — Quarantines and bad weather have not slowed down West Liberty-Salem’s girls basketball team this season. Northeastern had no chance either here Thursday.
The Tigers, ranked third in the Division III state poll, improved to 22-0 with a 58-7 victory over Northeastern in a sectional semifinal at Covington High School.
WL-S will now play Miami East or Waynesville in the sectional final at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Ft. Loramie High School.
Like many of the prep teams in the area this winter, the Lady Tigers have had to endure an unpredictable schedule with players being quarantined and also practices canceled because of inclement weather. But they have been undeterred in putting together a perfect record.
“Of our 19 girls, 15 of them have had to quarantine at least once,” said WL-S head coach Dennis McIntosh. “For them to continue to stay into it mentally says a lot about their makeup. They’ve handled all of this really well. A lot of it has to do with the leadership of our seniors, and the juniors have also done a good job of helping keep everything together.”
As expected, Northeastern (1-20) was no match for the Tigers in Thursday’s matchup.
Despite what McIntosh described as “a little bit of a slow start,” the Tigers showed why they are considered one of the best Division III teams in Ohio.
They shut out Northeastern 14-0 in the first quarter and led 19-0 before the Jets finally got on the scoreboard at the 6:55 mark of the second period.
The Tigers went on to lead 39-4 at halftime.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Tigers began to substitute freely to get some younger players a taste of tournament experience.
“I thought defensively we were really good,” said McIntosh. “Our defense has been our bread and butter all season. Offensively, we need to keep getting better. We did shoot the ball better tonight, so that was a plus.”
Selena Weaver, the Tigers’ talented senior center, led the way with a game-high 14 points.
Senior guard Grace Estes contributed 13 points, Madeline Hutton had eight points and Emily Hollar chipped in seven points for WL-S.
After a pair of tuneup games — the Tigers crushed Meadowdale 77-14 in their tourney opener Saturday — they will not see a major uptick in the level of competition.
Waynesville (13-7) and Miami East (12-11) did battle in the second game of the evening Thursday for the opportunity to meet the Tigers. It was Waynesville which knocked the Tigers out of the postseason last year.
“Defense and rebounding are going to be key no matter who it is,” said McIntosh. “Both teams have different styles, so we are going to have to get ourselves prepared when we see which one we are going to play.”
WL-SALEM 58, NORTHEASTERN 7
Allison 1 2-4 4; Weber 1 0-0 3. Totals: 2 2-4 7.
L. Weaver 0 0-2 0; E. Hollar 3 0-0 7; Wade 3 0-0 6; Poppe 2 0-0 5; Williams 1 0-0 2; Estes 3 5-6 13; Weaver 6 2-3 14; Hutton 2 2-2 8; Cole 1 1-2 3. Totals: 21 10-15 58.
Jets 0 4 3 0 — 7
Tigers 14 25 6 13 — 58
Three pointers: Northeastern 1 (Weber); WL-Salem 6 (Estes 2, Hutton 2, E. Hollar, Poppe). Team fouls: Northeastern 11; Wl-Salem 7.