BRYAN – “I think that we came out in the first period a little nervous,” said Montpelier Head Coach Tim Nicely about his team’s performance against Ayersville in the February 21 semifinal round of the D-IV Sectional playoffs. It was timidity along with turnovers – a lot of turnovers – that buried the Lady Locos early on their way to a 50-28 exit from the tourney.
Ayersville opened the scoring, then began taking advantage of a myriad of Montpelier miscues. Jaelyn Lyons prevented the Lady Locos from finishing the period with more team fouls than points, connecting on a trey from the top right of the arc as time expired in the first. Going into the second, Ayersville held a commanding 14-3 advantage, but Montpelier would answer back in the second.
At the 7:36 mark in the second, Hannah Bumb splashed a three from the upper left side. Ayersville answered with a deuce, but at 5:27, Landri McKelvey hit a rainmaker from the upper right to cut the deficit to seven at 16-9. Thirty seconds later, McKelvey dialed in another bomb from the right side. The Lady Locos were about to get their confidence back, but Ayersville finally responded by going on an 8-4 tear to close out the half, those four points coming off of a pair of Lyons deuces. Although they were in much better shape than they were after the first period, the Lady Locomotives still had a 24-16 deficit to overcome in the second half.
It didn’t happen.
Instead of continuing with the aggressive play of the second period, Montpelier returned to the timidity and turnover tactics of the first period. Ayersville made sure to take advantage of every gaffe that they could. A field goal by Marley Eich was the only thing that kept Montpelier from being stifled again, while the Lady Pilots took advantage of turnovers and defensive blunders to run out to a 36-18 lead going into the fourth. To make matters worse, with 1:21 remaining in the third, McKelvey got tangled up with an Ayersville player while trying to save the ball from an over and back turnover, tweaking an already injured ankle that had sidelined her earlier in the season. She was helped off the floor, and would not return until 2:04 remained in the game.
In the fourth, Eich added another deuce, McKenna Quaderer hit for a bucket and a pair of free throws, and McKelvey added two free throws and a field goal in the home stretch, but the Lady Pilots responded to the Montpelier ten point output with 14 of their own, opening up and then blowing past the 20-point margin for the convincing win.
“The second quarter, we settled down a bit and got within four,” Coach Nicely said. “We hit on some outside shots. We’re usually not that hot on the three-point line, but we hit three there, and it got us back into the game. I thought that we were going to be okay, but then we had a couple meltdowns on defense that put us down by eight at halftime. We came out in the third and just laid an egg. We didn’t play defense well at all. We didn’t talk on defense. We didn’t block out, and they just killed us on the offensive boards. You can’t give any team two or three opportunities to get rebounds. That’s what killed us.”
McKelvey hit for a team-high 10 to lead Montpelier in her final game, and Lyons added 7. Playing in her final game as a Lady Loco, Quaderer threw down 4 points, as did Marley, and Bumb finished with a trey.
Timothy Kays can be reached at email@example.com