McClain's Malea Montavon shoots a jumper at Hillsboro. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
McClain's Malea Montavon shoots a jumper at Hillsboro. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)

Double-figure scoring and more physical play in the second half was the key for the McClain Lady Tigers to gain a South Central Ohio League win Saturday night against rival Hillsboro. McClain had a combined 35 points from Malea Montavon and Taylor Polley, sending them to a 58-31 victory.

McClain’s seniors led the way with Polley leading with 18 points and Montavon with 17, with both sinking two 3-pointers in the win. Also with Polley, she made two two-point field goals and was 5-of-6 from the free-throw line. As for Montavon, she had four two-point baskets in her overall totals.

“This season has been different,” McClain head coach Jarrod Haines said. “We’ve had different lineups with girls being injured, and we are just getting back to a full roster. We struggled kind of gelling, but this game was good for us.

“We didn’t always settle for the outside shot, which is something we’ve done lately, and I’m pleased with the fact we got the ball inside. We’ve been working at it, and that is what we’ve asked them to do, so I was pleased.”

The start of the first frame saw Hillsboro’s Riley Moberly sink a 3-pointer to give the hosts an early lead, but from that point on the Lady Tigers controlled the opening frame, going on a 14-0 run from the 6:33 mark until the end of the quarter, though by the time the 5:00 mark arrived MHS scored 10 straight points of the run for a 10-3 lead. That scoring run began with Polley sinking a free throw, followed with a 3-pointer by Montavon.

From there, Beth Montgomery powered her way in the paint for a three-point play by making a layup under pressure and converting the ensuing free throw attempt. Montavon followed with a jumper, and Lexie Barton connected with a free throw for the 10-3 lead with three minutes left in the opening frame.

The scoring run for MHS continued to the end of the first quarter with a jumper by Maddy Stegbauer and two free throws from Polley with under a minute left in the opening frame for the 11-point differential.

The Lady Tigers added 13 more points in the second frame for a halftime lead of 27-11, and to start the frame, it was Hillsboro’s Taylor Chaney connecting with a layup at the 7:40 mark to break the 14-0 run by MHS. Polley answered with a 3-pointer at the 7:07 mark, but HHS was there with a point by Kelsey Burns.

Stegbauer countered with a jumper and free throw of her own, plus a layup by the Lady Tigers increased their lead to 23-7 three minutes into the second frame. HHS put together a run of five straight points wth Sydney Bobbitt, Moberly and Natalie Sullivan all contributing, getting back to within 12 points of MHS with 1:26 left in the first half.

Bryn Karnes broke up Hillsboro’s string of points with two free throws, and following by two free throws from Polley, the Lady Tigers ended the first half with a 27-11 advantage.

The best scoring quarter for MHS was the third, outscoring HHS 19-13, then in the fourth, McClain’s defense held strong by keeping HHS to seven points, while they added 12 points of their own.

In the 19-point third frame, Montgomery added four points as she ended the night with eight points, but on defense she controlled the boards and made opportunities happen for the rest of her team. Also in the third, Montavon added seven more points to her overall totals, including a 3-pointer at the 1:54 mark of the frame.

Still in the third, Polley made two 3-pointers for the Lady Tigers, one at the 6:37 mark and the other with 4:19 remaining in the frame. Makenzie Montavon also added two points in the third, connecting on a layup with 2:56 still on the scoreboard.

In the fourth for the Lady Tigers, Montgomery, Malea Montavon, Polley, Macie Adams and Karnes all contributed to the scoring, with Malea Montavon sinking a 3-pointer with 3:13 left in the final frame.

As for the Lady Indians in the second half, in their 13-point third frame Sullivan, Burns, Lana Grover, Madi Marsh, Moberly and Chaney all scored points with Moberly sinking her second 3-pointer of the game with 3.0 left in the third.

The fourth quarter for the Lady Indians had Grover add four more points, Marsh sink a free throw and Kaley Burns connect with a basket.

“We haven’t been very good offensively, and we weren’t very good offensively (Saturday),” HHS head coach JR Moberly said. “We haven’t shot the ball well, haven’t taken care of the basketball and were just having trouble with our offense.

“I haven’t done a very good job in practice in preparing my kids, so we have to keep working at it. For the most part, the kids have played as hard as they know how to play, and they do work hard and do the best they can.”

For the game, HHS was 3-of-11 from the free-throw line, while adding a total of two 3-pointers and 11 two-point field goals. MHS finished 14-of-20 at the free-throw line. They also added five 3-pointers and 13 two-point baskets to their totals.

Next for McClain is an SCOL game on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at Wilmington. Hillsboro will play on Wednesday, Jan. 11 at East Clinton.