Pirates sail toward PTC County title with win over Wildcats

By Jim Manion | Correspondent Published:

By Jim Manion | Correspondent

The Southeast Pirates took another step toward the Portage Trail Conference County Division title Wednesday night with a 65-54 decision over a much-improved Mogadore team.

Two years ago in coach Bob Dunn's first year of guiding the Pirates, his team won only four games. Dunn talked about how this team has continued to improve every night.

"A lot of times kids jump off the ship when it looks like it is going to be ugly," said Dunn. "But this group has stuck it out and continued to get better and work hard every night in practice."

The result of that hard work has the Pirates on the verge of clinching a division title as early as Saturday, when they travel to Garfield. The Pirates are now 13-4 overall and 10-1 in the division with three games remaining. Waterloo, with a win over Rootstown Wednesday night, is now 8-3 in the division. With a victory on Saturday, Southeast will clinch at least a piece of the title.

The usual game plan for the Pirates is to get the ball inside to all-league post player Shayna White. The 5-foot-10 senior dominated inside the entire game, with the Wildcats (6-10, 5-5 PTC County) having no answers. White scored a game-high 23 points and also ripped down 16 rebounds.

Four Southeast players hit double figures, with Brittany Butcher and Katelyn McCullough both hitting 13 points while Jullian Fesemyer tossed in 10. Dunn had good things to say about his clutch players.

"I think Shayna had one of her best nights. She really dug deep tonight and actually played some extra minutes," said Dunn. "Brittany got loose and hit a couple big 3s."

White scored the first five points for the Pirates in the opening quarter, which turned into a tight match when Naomi Pollock tossed in the 3-pointer for Mogadore to lock the score at 5-5. The first quarter would see the score tied three times with four lead changes before Madison Dunn would sink a pair of free throws at the three-minute mark to give the Pirates a 12-11 advantage. A Brittney Butcher 3 and another White basket in the paint would extend the first-quarter score to 19-13 at the break.

McCullough stepped up for the Pirates in the second quarter. The 5-3 senior hit a 3 after making a foul shot to give the Pirates a 30-23 lead with less than a minute to play in the half. She then made a steal at the other end of the court and Butcher scored to close out the half with the biggest lead of the night 32-23.

Southeast scored the first eight points of the second half to push the lead to 40-23. McCullough hit a pair of foul-line jumpers, then Fesemyer tossed in a jumper from the side before White canned a pair of free throws.

"I thought both Fesemyer and McCullough were really huge for us tonight. They both took charges in critical parts of the game, and they both hit some key shots in critical spots," said Dunn.

The Wildcats came back, scoring the next seven points with Grace Reilly hitting a 3 and Makenzie Williams getting a pair of bunnies on putbacks. The two teams battled on near even terms, with Southeast outscoring Mogadore 15-13 in the quarter to hold a 47-36 advantage entering the last eight minutes.

The final quarter saw both teams put up 18 points. The Wildcats did manage to cut their deficit to only seven points on several occasions, but White put the lock on the win when she scored six of the final eight points.

"I thought we really played hard," said Mogadore coach Tom Pollock. "We got some key players back and made some changes from the first time we played them. They are a good team and made some clutch baskets in the right times tonight."

Reilly led Mogadore with 16 points, while Williams scored 14 and also grabbed 10 rebounds and Ashley Barker had 10 points for the Wildcats.

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