Midway through the third quarter of South Side girls' matchup with Huntington North on Tuesday, Vikings guard Leah Campbell drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to knot the score at 22, the first time the sectional game had been tied since the first quarter.
The huge basket completed a Huntington North comeback from seven points down and fired up the Vikings' fans on hand at South Side. It was a tense moment for the Archers, but they responded like a veteran team does.
Over the next six minutes, South Side ripped off 13 straight points.
Senior guard Jaci Jones scored five points during the run and finished with 19 points and six steals to lead the Archers to a 45-31 victory in the first round of the Class 4A sectional.
“We reminded (the players) of the offensive possessions, we weren't rotating the ball, we weren't getting the defense to move and we just needed to quit settling for shots,” South Side coach Juanita Goodwell said of the game-turning run. “I think we finally hit a 3 after we were able to penetrate and kick out.”
That 3-pointer came courtesy of Jones, who hit one from long distance to push the South Side advantage to 32-22. On the next possession, Olivia Smith, who finished with 12 points, barreled toward the hoop and scored plus a foul. She hit the free throw to complete the run.
There were still some tense moments down the stretch for the Archers (14-9) as Huntington North went to an aggressive trapping defense in the final minutes and sliced the deficit to 37-29 with less than three minutes remaining.
Jones answered with a strong drive to her left that ended in another layup plus a foul, as she took a shot to the nose. She also made the free throw to make it an 11-point margin again and South Side coasted home.
“We were just moving the ball and just had good possessions,” Jones said. “I just attacked really well and just rebounded. We pushed the ball in transition and my team found me when I was open.”
The sectional matchup was the second time the teams had met within a week. The Archers got off to a poor shooting start, missing their first seven outside shots, and neither team scored in the first 4:40 of the game.
The Vikings' defense kept them within striking distance, but they weren't able to muster enough offense, in large part because of Jones jumping in passing lanes for steals and South Side's Lamyia Woodson shutting down the paint with five blocks.
Huntington North finished its first season under coach Matt Hinds with a 15-8 record, an eight-win improvement over last season. Campbell and Reece Colclesser had nine points apiece to lead the Vikings.
The Archers advance to face Wayne (4-17) in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Generals got a bye in the first round of the tournament, but South Side beat them 82-22 on Nov. 22.
“We did have a dominant performance against (Wayne) the first time, but we're at the end of the season and everybody's gotten better,” Goodwell said.
“I know they're going to come in and give us their best game.”