By Cody Leist
WAVERLY — Despite having a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter of Saturday’s Division III Southeast District Semifinal, No. 3 Piketon couldn’t find a way to make it stick in a 41-29 loss to No. 2 Alexander at Waverly’s Downtown Gymnasium.
The problem for the Redstreaks became an issue of consistency. Piketon was 3-of-18 from the floor in the second half and missed its final seven shots of the contest. The Redstreaks also committed 21 points in the game, which resulted directly into 18 Spartan points.
“My kids, they battled until the end,” Piketon coach Brett Coreno said. “We started off good but we knew that they had a plethora of guards that could handle the basketball and that can shoot it.”
Despite a sluggish start for both teams, Ashlee Lawhorn’s potential 3-point play opportunity early in the second gave the Redstreaks a 15-5 lead, the largest they enjoyed on the afternoon. However, Alexander responded with an 8-2 run that closed out the half.
The Spartans, who led once in the opening minutes of the game, took control for good in the third when Leah Richardson’s basket made it an 18-17 affair. It was a part of a 7-0 run that started the second half. The spurt was halted on a Katie Ward jumper with 3:23 left in the period, but Piketon found itself in a 20-19 hole.
The two teams traded field goals but Alexander finished with the final five points of the quarter. Despite the Spartans building their advantage to nine early in the fourth, the Redstreaks climbed back at the charity stripe. Thanks to converting five of its first six from the charity stripe in the stanza, Aleah Pelphrey’s bucket drew Piketon to a 31-28 deficit.
Unfortunately, Alexander finished the contest with a 10-1 run that ended the Redstreaks’ season and the high school careers of Pelphrey and Kalen Jenkins.
“You’ve just got to put the ball in the hole and sometimes they don’t go, sometimes they do, tonight, they didn’t,” Coreno said.
Pelphrey led Piketon with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Jenkins racked up a pair of free throws. With his two seniors and Katie Ward — another post presence — on the bench for major stretches of time because of foul trouble, his team’s margin for error became smaller as each precious second ticked away.
“It’s hard to get a rhythm because you’re subbing kind of like a merry-go-round in there because of fouls,” Coreno said. “A lot of those fouls, you’ve got to realize, are little bunnies that we missed and we went over the back to try to get the rebound. You make those bunnies and we don’t get those fouls.”
With Jenkins and Pelphrey leaving, Coreno couldn’t stop finding positive thoughts about the duo.
“They never given me one problem, set a great foundation for our kids in future years and always played hard, always on time,” Coreno said. “You couldn’t ask for two better kids than Aleah Pelphrey and Kalen Jenkins.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or on Twitter @CodyLeist.
Piketon 9 8 4 8 — 29
Alexander 4 9 14 14 — 41
Piketon — Lawhorn 2-1-5, Legg 0-1-1, Pelphrey 4-4-12, Pack 2-2-6, Jenkins 0-2-2, Ward 1-1-3, Totals 9-11-29.
Alexander — Richardson 5-11-21, Malone 2-3-9, Rankin 1-1-3, Weaver 0-1-1, Milum 1-2-4, Meeks 1-1-3, Totals 10-19-41.
3-Point Goals — Piketon None; Alexander 2 (Malone 2).
Records — Piketon 15-8, Alexander 16-6.