JACKSON - The Wellston Lady Rockets succumbed to a first-quarter flurry by Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant, falling behind 18-6 and eventually dropping a 60-44 decision against the Lady Hornets on Monday in the semifinal round of the Division III sectional tournament at Jackson High School.
The Lady Rockets close the 2017-18 season with a record of 9-13 overall, while the Lady Hornets improved to 18-5. With the win, Coal Grove advances to the sectional finals on Saturday in a 2:45 p.m. tip-off against No. 4-seed Alexander, a 70-33 winner over Westfall in the other semifinal on Monday.
"It was a very slow start again for us," said Wellston head coach Scot Sturgill. "They outscored us out of the gate 18-6. I thought Coal Grove had a good game plan. We had some film on them but they were certainly a lot more athletic than what we thought.
"They were long inside, which caused some trouble for us. We didn't do a very good job defensively keeping them off the glass. They got off a lot of second and even third chance opportunities. Every shot they wanted, they got tonight."
Tory Doles led Wellston with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Sydney Mullins, who was held scoreless in the first half, scored 12 points in the second half and Daycee Clemons added five points. Mya Bouska and Emily Kisor each had four points, while Kaylee Taynor added three points and Megan Vickers had two. Bouska also led the team in rebounds with eight to go along with six assists, and four steals.
Addi Dillow led Coal Grove with 16 points, five rebounds, and five steals. Baylee McKnight added 14 points, six rebounds, and four steals, while Kasey Murphy had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Lady Hornets.
After Doles hit a three-pointer to start the game for Wellston, the Lady Hornets took control with a 13-0 run to lead 13-3 with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter and led 18-6 after the period.
Wellston was not able to recover from the fast start by Coal Grove while the Lady Rockets were held to just 2-of-13 shooting from the field (15.3 percent) during the quarter.
The Lady Rockets had stretches of strong play in the second quarter, as they closed the margin to eight on back-to-back three-pointers by Doles to cut the lead to 20-12 with 6:48 left to play in the first half. But Coal Grove stretched its lead to 12 and went in at the half with a 29-17.
"We didn't do a very good job in transition, finding people or communicating on the offensive or defensive side of the ball," said Sturgill. "In our transition defense, we didn't do a very good job at all.
"But kudos to them. They are moving on. We lose only two seniors in Kaylee Taynor and Megan Vickers, who were in the program for four years. However, we feel like we have a lot to build off of going into next season."
The second half was close as Sydney Mullins buried a pair of three-pointers to cut the lead to 34-25 with 5:51 left in the third quarter. But merely 18-seconds later, the Lady Hornets pulled away with a 13-6 run punctuated by a pair of free throws by McKnight and one by Murphy to lead 47-31 at the end of the period.
Emily Compliment, Destiny Dolen, and McKnight each scored, while Dillow made two free throws as Coal Grove extended its lead to 23 points with 5:50 left in the fourth quarter. But Kisor scored on back-to-back possessions for Wellston and a pair of three-pointers by Taynor and Clemons, followed by a field goal by Vickers capped a 12-5 run to close within 16 points at the end of the game.
Wellston, which committed just four turnovers in the second half finished with 16 for the game, while Coal Grove had 15 steals. The Lady Hornets also outrebounded Wellston 44-30, including 20-14 on the offensive glass.
The Lady Hornets shot 37.7 percent (20-of-53) from the field, including 16-of-23 from the free throw line. Wellston was held to 30.6 percent shooting (15-of-49) for the game and made seven 3-pointers.