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Belpre girls knock off Symmes Valley to win 3rd straight sectional crown

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Belpre’s Alyssa Hutchinson drives between Symmes Valley teammates Hailee Beckett (5) and Kylee Thompson (20) during the Golden Eagles’ 64-36 sectional championship victory Saturday night.

BELPRE — Katie Woodford’s lay-in via an Allie Jaraucaro assist capped the scoring Saturday night for host Belpre as the seventh-seeded Golden Eagles used an explosive third quarter to secure a 64-36 Ohio Division IV sectional championship victory against 10th-seeded Symmes Valley.

The Vikings (11-6) of head coach Shannon Pierce, who hit 2 of 10 from the foul line in the first half, trailed just 29-26 at intermission. However, the Golden Eagles came out of the break and hit 9 of 17 field goals in a 24-3 third quarter. The Vikings had a dozen turnovers and missed 8 of 9 shots to trail 53-29 entering the fourth.

“Our energy was so pumped,” admitted Curstin Giffin, who went for 17 points, 10 rebounds, four steals and a pair of blocks to help lead Belpre to its third straight sectional crown. “We were so ready for this game and it was so exciting. We’ve been getting hyped all week.

“This is our first sectional at Belpre High School and we just wanted to cut our own net down. It means a lot for our younger kids getting to cut down a net their first year. It’s a really good feeling and it’s just good we got to cut it down at our house.”

Belpre, which improved to 10-11, returns to action at 7 p.m. Thursday versus second-seeded Peebles, which is led by Ohio state player of the year candidate Jacey Justice.

“For our seniors, it’s great,” expressed Golden Eagle boss Chris Murray, who watched Halee Williams (13 points, six boards, game-high five assists, four steals) pick up her third foul in the second quarter. “We don’t always get the opportunity to host and this was a big deal. The only reason why we are hosting is because of COVID.

“They (Peebles) have the best player in the state. She’s leading the state in scoring. She’s legit and now they got help. It’s going to be a tough game. She’s having a good senior year and it will be a tough environment for us.”

Symmes Valley made things difficult on the Golden Eagles for a half, but the hosts jumped out to an 8-0 lead before the Vikings scored seven straight thanks to deuces by Morgan Lyons and Kylee Thompson as well as a trifecta by Desiree Simpson, who grabbed 10 boards.

Giffin tallied 11 markers in the opening stanza and a late foul shot by Jenna Malone got the Vikings to within eight at 19-11 after one.

Lyons, who joined Simpson in scoring 11 points, opened the second with a 3, but Maddie Garber answered that with a banked in trifecta of her own. A late putback by Simpson and a triple with 15 seconds left in the half by Kelsi Gothard, who had seven markers, allowed Symmes Valley to trail just 29-26 at the break.

Williams, who started the second half with three foul, scored three straight points to start the third. A bucket by Simpson closed it to 32-28, but then the Golden Eagles closed the period on a 21-1 run. Jaylynn Wright started it with a 3 from an Alyssa Hutchinson assist. Kaitlen Bush, who had two blocks and a game-high five steals, scored seven of her game-high 18 points in the spurt. Khyleigh Scott’s triple capped the run and closed out the quarter scoring as the Golden Eagles led by two dozen.

“Honestly, I liked the pace of the game,” added Murray, whose team forced 35 turnovers and held SVHS to 21.8% (12 of 55) while shooting 40% (22 of 55). “Even though we went in at halftime with a three point lead, I thought we really dictated pace. I wasn’t really too concerned because I didn’t think Symmes Valley would be able to continue the pace with us that we like to play.

“Halee playing the entire second half not getting in foul trouble made a significant difference for the way we like to play because you can’t triangle-and-two Kaitlen and Curstin with Halee in.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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