Updated Mon, Feb 17, 2014 11:54 am
The No. 3 seed Vinton County Lady Vikings (13-9, 7-3) couldn’t overcome a stifling full-court trap defense and suffered a season-ending loss to No. 2 seed Sheridan in the sectional finals on Saturday afternoon, 65-57.
Sheridan’s fervid defense forced 17 Lady Viking turnovers, 10 of them in the first half alone. Vinton County senior point guard Megan Dixon struggled to weave her way through the Lady General press and turned the ball over seven times.
“We were trying to make really long passes and they picked them off,” Vinton County head coach Mark Dixon said. “We dug ourselves in a hole and we couldn’t quite get out of it.”
Morgan Householder led Sheridan’s defensive effort by snatching seven steals. Householder had the bulk of her 10 points early and was a key part of the Lady Generals’ attack that led by as many as 14 points early in the second.
Sheridan’s key to success was their center, Taylor Gittings’, big day. The 6-foot-2 senior totaled 16 points and nine rebounds and was an intimidating presence on defense that challenged Vinton County layups throughout the game.
“You drive and she blocks your shot,” Dixon said of Gittings. “I think that made us back off and not drive the ball and we couldn’t take good shots when we did get there.”
Michaela Puckett scored 19 points and pulled down seven rebounds just two days after injuring her right ankle. The sophomore was 8 of 13 shooting and was a reliable force on a day when the Lady Vikings shot an inconsistent 38 percent from the field.
Vinton County picked up its pace and made a run late in the second quarter to cut the deficit to five at the half, 31-26.
Jalen Hale came off the bench to score 10, but was unable to overcome foul trouble, fouling out midway through the fourth quarter. The Lady Vikings trimmed Sheridan’s lead to as few as three, but were never able to gain the lead.
Sheridan extended its lead in the fourth by capitalizing on missed Vinton County 3-pointers.
Saturday afternoon’s loss brings the careers of Megan Dixon, Xan Hale and Jamee Park to an end. Sheridan advances to the district semifinals and will take on No. 1 seed Jackson on Thursday.