HARRIMAN — The third quarter could’ve hardly gone worse for Oneida on the offensive end of the court.
And, yet, the Lady Indians still won comfortably in Friday’s District 3-A semifinal at Roane State Community College, defeating No. 4 Sunbright, 47-31.
How do you overcome a third quarter that saw you score a single field goal and score only three points, and still win by 16? The same way you hold your opponent to just 31 points: Defense.
The Lady Indians were on their game defensively in Friday’s semifinal, harassing Sunbright into 22 turnovers and limiting the Lady Tigers to just 32 percent shooting, including 2 of 12 from 3-point range.
That was enough to help Oneida win going away on a night when its game wasn’t up to par on the offensive end. The Lady Indians shot just 35 percent from the field, including 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
Chelsea Newport had 15 points to lead all scorers. She was the only Lady Indian in double figures, but eight different players contributed to Oneida’s point total. Harley Boyatt had eight points in the first half, and Katelyn Stiltner had six points in the fourth quarter to also finish with eight. Stiltner also had a team-high seven rebounds.
Oneida’s offense started solidly enough. Boyatt had six of her eight in the first quarter, and Chloe Terry knocked down a key 3-point shot, as Oneida jumped to a 15-6 lead after the opening period.
The second quarter saw Oneida continue to grow the lead. It was as much as 15 points at one time, 23-8.
But then the Lady Indians seemed to hit a wall. Sunbright ended the first half on a 7-3 run, cutting the deficit to 11 points.
Things wouldn’t improve in the third quarter, as a Newport 3-pointer proved to be all the points the Lady Indians could muster. Sunbright, meanwhile, continued to claw back, cutting the deficit to 29-22.
Oneida kept the Lady Tigers at arm’s length with defense. While the Lady Indians shot just 1 of 9 in the third quarter, Sunbright was only 3 of 9 from the field.
The fourth quarter saw Stiltner begin to find a rhythm in the paint, while Sunbright missed some crucial free throws, including the front end of a one-and-one opportunity on two different occasions.
It was an oddly-balanced game from an officiating perspective. On some occasions, the officiating crew let the two teams play physical and aggressive, allowing a lot of contact to slide. On others, they called ticky-tack fouls that had both coaches scratching their heads. Oneida’s Kendyl West would ultimately foul out of the game in the fourth quarter, as would Sunbright’s Lexi Griffith.
The win sends Oneida to the District 3-A championship game for a second consecutive year. The Lady Indians, who lost to Midway in last year’s title game, will be looking for their first district crown since 2016. That year, they defeated Wartburg by 17 in the championship game.
This year, Oneida defeated Wartburg by 24 at home, but the Lady Bulldogs handed the Lady Indians their only loss of the district season, winning 55-53 in Morgan County after Oneida had built a 12-0 lead in the first quarter.
ONEIDA (47): Newport 15, Stiltner 8, Boyatt 8, West 5, Terry 3, Wisner 3, Martin 2, Thomas 2.
SUNBRIGHT (31): Brown 11, Cox 10, Nitzschke 6, Trent 3, Northrup 2.