WARTBURG, Tenn. | Coach Mike Hayes’ Midway Green Wave held tough for two and a half quarters here Monday. But, in the end, Oneida’s Lady Indians were simply too much.
Led by Kelsey Pike’s 24 points and nine rebounds, Oneida pulled away for a 53-31 over the Green Wave, advancing to the Region 2-A championship game and punching its ticket to a fifth consecutive substate appearance.
Pike and her teammate, Rachel Elmore, become Oneida’s second consecutive group of Oneida seniors to advance to the substate each year of their high school careers, a feat that before last year had not been accomplished since 2003.
Midway’s only lead in the game came at 2-0, but the Green Wave were able to keep things interesting for a half and then some. In fact, Hayes’ team trailed by only seven points at halftime and cut it to as close as five points early in the third quarter.
But then the Lady Indians began to slowly pull away. On a night when Midway struggled to shoot the ball, the Green Wave had little hope of out-scoring Pike and Oneida.
Only one other Oneida player — Raylie Bush, with 11 — scored in double figures, but the Lady Indians’ defense was relentless. Bush had a team-high four steals. Grace Shoemaker added three, and Oneida forced Midway into 19 turnovers while limiting the Green Wave to 27% shooting.
By the final seconds of the third quarter, Oneida had built a 16-point lead. Midway was finally able to hit its first 3-pointer of the game, cutting it to 13 points as the fourth quarter began, but it felt like the game was pretty much over at that point.
If there was any doubt, Oneida out-scored Midway 17-8 in the final period — the equivalent of putting its throat on the Green Wave’s throat and refusing to let up.
Oneida didn’t exactly shoot the lights out, finishing 37%, but 10 made 3-pointers by the Lady Indians proved to be a huge difference in the game. Pike had five of those. Braelyn Russ added two more.
Sierra Cowell had a big night for Midway, finishing with 16 rebounds. She was a big reason why the Green Wave had a 37 to 29 advantage on the boards.
With the win, Oneida will face Harriman in Wednesday’s region championship game. Perhaps more importantly than hardware, the winner will host a substate game on Saturday, while the loser will face a trip to upper East Tennessee, likely to face 28-2 Hampton. The other option is North Greene. While those two teams will meet in their own region championship game on Wednesday, there appears to be a clear-cut difference between the two.
Oneida defeated Harriman by 23 points in a meeting earlier this season. The Blue Devils came back from a double-digit second half deficit to defeat Coalfield on Monday. Wednesday’s game will tip off at 7pm.
ONEIDA (53): Pike 24, Bush 11, Russ 8, Kline 5, West 5.
MIDWAY (31): Kile 8, Cawood 8, Armes 7, Cowell 6, Copeland 2, Queener 1.