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With its leading scorer out for the remainder of the season due to an ACL injury, Minerva used a balanced-scoring attack to beat Maysville 54-49 in a District II district semifinal at West Holmes High School.
Madi Pearson had a great game running the show for the Lady Lions. The junior finished with a team-high 18 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. She also had five rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Nelle Yankovich connected on 11-of-16 attempts from the charity stripe on her way to 13 points, six steals and five boards; Kayla Kinsey sank two deep balls, finishing with 12 points and five boards; Lauren Frigyes collected a team-high six rebounds; and Alivia Bates had four points and four rebounds.
The eighth-seeded Lady Lions played without the services of Bri Gassman for a second straight game. The senior averages 14.8 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. They were heavy underdogs against Maysville, the fourth seed.
They did not play like one.
Trailing by three points after the opening eight minutes of play, Minerva put together a solid second quarter, outscoring Maysville 19-8 for a 27-19 halftime lead.
A low-scoring third quarter saw the Lady Lions stretch their advantage to nine - 34-25.
The two teams got hot in the fourth quarter. Maysville won the stanza 24-20, but were unable to win the game.
Minerva won this game at the free-throw line, sinking 22-of-28 attempts. Maysville was 8-of-13.
"Maysville quickly jumped out to 9-0 lead, then we scored and settled in for the rest of the game," commented Head Coach Heather Frigyes. "We were able to take away a big part of their game with our defense, which was their dribble penetration. Our girls did a very good job of adjusting our zone defense to their offensive set to take their movement away.
"Maysville is a solid offensive-rebounding team and we were able to contain them and win the battle of the boards. We shot the ball extremely well today from both the field and the free-throw line."
New Philadelphia 51
With a district title on the line, New Philadelphia showed why it received the top seed as it rolled to a 24-point victory over the Lady Lions at Sandy Valley High School.
Minerva struggled all day long against the Lady Quakers' relentless, full-court pressure.
Down 10-4 after the opening quarter, the Lady Lions opened the second frame with a 10-0 run. Nelle Yankovich scored six points during the span.
New Philadelphia put together a run of its own, outscoring Minerva 12-2, taking a 22-16 advantage into halftime.
The Lady Quakers dominated play in the third frame. Their defensive pressure resulted in seven turnovers as they stretched their lead to 17, 39-22. Minerva was unable to close the gap over the final eight minutes.
Frigyes had a solid game inside the paint with 10 points and six rebounds.
Yankovich added 10 points and four steals, and Madi Pearson had seven points.
"Going into this game we knew that New Philadelphia was a quick, athletic team that relies on their defensive pressure," commented Coach Frigyes. "It was this defensive pressure that eventually wore us down, especially in the second half.
"This game started very similar to the Maysville game and we went on a 10-0 run in the second quarter to actually take the lead. However, in the final minute, New Philadelphia went on a 6-0 run to go in the locker room at half with a 22-16 advantage.
"I am very proud of our girls and what they have accomplished this season. They have battled adversity with injuries and pushed through to compete and make a repeat appearance in the district finals. Not many teams can say they have accomplished this feat."
This is the second straight year the Lady Lions (14-11) have made it to the district final.