MORRISTOWN - Tina Yates has been stressing to her Shadyside Lady Tigers that every game - regardless of opponent - should be treated like a championship game.
It just so happened that Thursday's encounter with Barnesville at Union Local High School was a championship game.
The Lady Tigers raced out to an 11-0 lead and didn't look back from there en route to a convincing 58-25 victory against cold-shooting Lady Shamrocks in the Division IV sectional co-final.
Shadyside’s Lauren May gets her souvenir after the Lady Tigers ousted Barnesville.
"We were really giddy from the get go, but I thought we got re-focused early," Yates said. "I don't think we played as well as we're capable in any aspect tonight, but we've got a week now to get prepared (for the district)."
Shadyside will return to the court next Thursday at New Philadelphia High School against Zanesville Bishop Rosecrans, which edged Garaway in its sectional title game at Claymont High School.
"We've not talked about anyone except the game that's been next," Yates said. "We've got to come out and play the way we're capable of playing next week. We have to be solid defensively and totally focused from the opening tip."
While Shadyside is now 17-7, Barnesville wrapped up its season at 8-16.
"I think we got better as the season went along, won a tournament game, so we've got some things to build on," said Lady Shamrocks' head coach Jamie Carpenter. "I wish my four seniors (Sydney Bruce, Lane Hanlon, Raquel Bahmer and Marissa Burga) the best. They're great students, great kids and I know they'll have be successful."
The Lady Tigers got a strong start from senior Hayley Holenka, who scored Shadyside's first seven points.
On the other end, the Lady Shamrocks continually came up empty.
"I can't recall shutting anyone out in a quarter," Yates said. "Honestly, I didn't even notice it. I knew it was 11-0 at one point. At times, I was happy with our defense, but at other times I thought we let down a little bit."
Barnesville was getting decent looks at the hoop, but just couldn't get a shot to fall. It was even 0-2 at the line.
"We told the girls all week that the first quarter would be huge," said Carpenter. "I thought if we could hang around, our confidence would grow. We put a new offense in three days ago and the girls picked it up well. We had some looks, but they wouldn't fall and I think we got a little rattled."
Shadyside turned it to its other senior leader, Karli Bonar, in the second quarter as the lead extended to 27-10 at the intermission.
Bonar, the all-time leading 3-point shooter in Ohio history, got going with 13 of her 21 points in the period. She knocked down three bonus baskets and finished with five in the game, giving her 345 for her career and 105 for the season, leaving her two short of the all-time single-season mark in OHSAA history.
"We weren't really in sync offensively and I think part of it's because we weren't as focused as we should have been," Yates said. "
The Lady Shamrocks, who produced nary a double-figure scorer and connected on just 9-of-48 action shots, recorded the first hoop of the third quarter. However, it was their only basket of the quarter, while Shadyside proceeded to score the next 20 points, resulting in a 47-12 margin when both teams emptied their benches.
"Shadyside is a very good ball team with two really good players," Carpenter said. "I told the girls we had a mountain to climb when we got here, but it got a lot steeper when we didn't shoot well. But, I give my kids credit because they never quit."
Bonar led all scorers in the game with her total, while Holenka added 16. She was once again extremely active and pesky on defense. Senior Kristen Fijalkowski recorded a solid 13 rebounds and played strong post defense against talented Lady Shamrocks' frosh Shaela Markovich, who was held to just one point and eight rebounds.
The Lady Shamrocks were led by sophomore Layna Broomhall's nine points.
Barnesville was charted for 13 turnovers, which was two more than the winners.
BARNESVILLE (25) - Ralston 1, 0-0 2; Broomhall 3, 0-0 9; Huntsman 1, 0-0 2; Bruce 1, 0-0 3; Plumly 0, 2-4 2; Hanlon 2, 0-0 4; Bahmer 1, 0-0 2; Markovich 0, 1-9 1; Totals: 9, 3-13 25. SHADYSIDE (58) - Holenka 5, 5-11 16; Fijalkowski 0, 0-0 0; Andes 1, 0-0 2; Bonar 7, 2-2 21; Fielding 3, 0-0 6; May 0, 0-0 0; Johnson 1, 0-3 2; Jackson 1, 0-0 2; Kinemond 1, 0-0 2; Benedetta 0, 0-0 0; Schofield 0, 0-0 0; Rosser 1, 0-0 3; Eneix 1, 0-0 2; Gulley 0, 2-2 2; Totals: 21, 9-18 58.
Three-Point Goals: B - Broomhall (3), Bruce. S - Bonar (5), Holenka, Rosser.
B - 0; 10; 2; 13 - 25
S - 11; 16; 10; 21 - 58