PDT Sports Writer
ATHENS — The journey for the 2012-2013 West girls basketball has been wild and crazy to put it lightly.
Despite losing three out of the first four games in the season and without two key cogs in the rotation, the No. 7 Senators found themselves Sunday in the district finals for the first time in school history. Unfortunately, they also found themselves against No. 1 Fairland and playing at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
With a senior-laden team, West’s mistakes proved to be final as the Dragons prevailed 44-32 in a Division III Southeast District Championship game. The Senators committed 23 turnovers in the game, which led to eight Fairland points.
“I thought we played with a little bit of nerves (during) the first half,” West coach Greg Maynard said. “(We) didn’t shoot well, turned the ball over a little bit more than what we liked.”
The goal for the Senators was to get Fairland junior and University of Minnesota commit Terra Stapleton out of the game. That accomplishment was reached in the first quarter when West’s Taylor Conley drew two fouls and banished Stapleton to the bench with 4:19 left in the period, a place she would stay at for the duration of the half.
Unfortunately, West could not capitalize on the opportunities as the Senators finished the half shooting 4-of-19 from the floor and watching a 4-0 deficit at the time of Stapleton’s benching turn into a 21-13 hole at the intermission. West senior Tori Leader also went to the bench with 2:44 left in the half with a pair of infractions.
Maynard admitted he didn’t think his team adjusted enough to the shooting backgrounds and nuances that come with the home of the Ohio University Bobcats. At the same time, his team’s opponent had to play on the same floor and may not have handled it any better.
“We just played bad today, we really played bad ball today,” Maynard said. “I felt that if we played a little better ball, it would’ve been a different outcome.”
The third quarter wasn’t kind to the Senators as the Dragons’ lead grew to as much as 14 points. Leader accounted for five of West’s six points in the frame.
The Senators made their biggest push in the game during the early stages of the fourth thanks to a pair of key 3-pointers from Hannah Cremeans. Her first triple of the game came with 5:59 left in the fourth.
It was the first made by either team and it broke a string of 10 misses from the arc for the lower-seeded team.
“We’ve struggled with that all year,” Maynard said. “Not taking the right shots, living and dying by (the three). It sparks us at times and at times, it hurts us.”
The second three from Cremeans pulled West to a 35-31 disadvantage with 3:33 to go. It was the closest the Senators would get for the remainder of the game.
“(The flow of the game) was choppy at best,” Maynard said. “We couldn’t take care of the ball well enough to get anything going offensively working. We (were) throwing it around, weak passes.”
Leader led all scorers with 14 points in her final high school game while Conley chipped in with 11. Leader along with Mimi Pierce, Tara Journey, Angel Trapp and Alex Weghorst have left quite a lasting legacy on the West Side.
“These seniors mean everything to (West) High School and the community,” Maynard said. “I’ve never seen such community support as I have seen here this week for these young ladies.”
Maynard recalled coming to Athens at age 10 watching the 1985 West boys team fight to advance. He said it was a goal of his to reach The Convo.
Despite being without Cremeans and Alex Ridout to start the season, he along with his team, reached their goals.
“We (were) where we needed to be at the end of the season and I was happy about that,” Maynard said. “We made a great run here.”
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
West — Oiler 0-1-1, Conley 2-7-11, Cremeans 2-0-6, Leader 5-4-14, Totals 9-12-32.
Fairland — Stapleton 5-0-10, Swiger 2-0-4, C. Fulks 1-2-4, K. Riley 4-1-9, Stone 4-0-8, Perry 4-3-11, Totals 20-6-46.
3-Point Goals — West 2 (Cremeans 2); Fairland None.
Records — West 14-12; Fairland 23-0.