Jacey Justice Carries Peebles Past Waterford

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High school basketball in the great state of Ohio isn’t about a player’s highlights or stats, it’s about a players passion and their will to win.

On Thursday night, the Peebles Lady Indians (16-8) and the Waterford Lady Wildcats (20-4) put each other’s wills to the test in a battle for the District Final. It’s playoff battles like these that make fans remember why the girls are out there playing.

From the opening tip, this game would be best described as just that; a battle. Fans in attendance at Jackson High School saw first hand the 32 minutes of tough defense and physical scoring efforts, with both teams fighting for every loose ball as the momentum swung from side-to-side. The momentum was taken by Peebles in the end however, as the Lady Indians’ fourth quarter defense secured the 50-39 win and the District Title.

When it comes to that will to win, the heart of a champion, there wasn’t a single heart bigger than that of Jacey Justice. With her team up just one point at the end of the first quarter, Justice turned on the intensity from the second quarter to the final buzzer. Communication with her teammates and visible reactions to every play made Justice a crowd favorite as well.

Justice’s work as a teammate may have been overshadowed by her individual efforts. Her 14 points led the Lady Indians in scoring and her defensive effort was felt on seemingly every crucial possession. Her intensity on defense would be the catalyst for the entire team’s defensive effort in the fourth quarter. 

Despite a game high 19 point performance from freshman Cara Taylor, the Wildcats struggles on the glass and from the line would lead to the eventual 11-point loss. The defense was certainly the highlight of the team’s efforts, able to keep the game tight until the end.

Head coach Jerry Close and his team will see their season come to an end earlier than they would’ve hoped. Coming off of a state semifinal appearance last year, the team certainly won’t let this game dampen any hopes for next year. With all but three players returning for next year, the Lady Wildcats will certainly have their confidence back for next season.

With the district championship and an entire season on the line, the Lady Indians and Lady Wildcats showed what playoff basketball is all about. While both teams played till the last whistle, it is the Lady Indians who will advance on to the next round as their quest for the state title continues.