VANDALIA — Jackson Center stormed off the bench with six straight points to start the fourth quarter, and never relinquished the lead after that in defeating Miami Valley School 42-36 Thursday night in the Division 4 Regional semifinals at Vandala Butler High School.
The Lady Tigers reach 20 wins for the season (20-7), and set up an all-County regional championship Saturday night at 7:30 against the defending state champion Fort Loramie Lady Redskins. The winner of that game heads to the state tournament a week from today.
Miami Valley lived up to its pregame billing as a team that likes to run, reeling off eight of the first nine points of the game and forcing JC coach Scott Doseck to call a timeout less than two minutes into the game.
When the teams returned to the floor, the Lady Tigers returned the favor, going on an 8-0 run to take a 9-8 lead. Both teams calmed down after that, and the first quarter ended 13-13.
Kamryn Elchert drained a three-pointer to open the second quarter, giving the Lady Tigers their largest lead of the game to that point. But Miami Valley then went on a 10-1 run to open up a six-point margin at 23-19.
Peyton Esser responded with what was a big hoop to stop the run, and it proved to be the last points of the half, with the Lady Rams leading 23-19 at the break.
However, in the third quarter, Miami Valley failed to score, and even though the Lady Tigers managed only four points in the quarter, it still made the score even at 23-23 heading to the final period.
The Lady Tigers wasted no time taking complete control at the start of the final period. Nicole Fogt drained a three-pointer to make it 26-23, then Kennadie Reese converted a three-point play to make it 29-23.
After Miami Valley hit a basket for its first points of the second half to make it 29-25, Peyton Esser canned a three-pointer to make it 32-25, then followed with a layup to push the lead to 34-25.
Miami Valley made a run, however, pulling to within 36-32 with still 1:50 remaining. Jackson missed two free throws, but Miami Valley was unable to convert at its end of the floor. Then Christen Ware and Esser both dropped in two free throws to put it away.
Esser finished the game with 13 points to lead the Lady Tigers. Fogt had seven, Cassie Meyer and Pauline Meyer five apiece, Ware four and Reese and Elchert three apiece.