CHATTANOOGA — When Oneida’s seniors began their high school basketball careers, the Lady Indian program hadn’t been to the substate since they were barely old enough to enroll in pre-kindergarten programs. When they end their high school careers, they will have seen their team get to the substate three times in their four years.
Oneida achieved that milestone Monday, advancing to the Region 2-A championship game with a 56-41 win over Midway. The win also left the Lady Indians as one of just 16 teams still standing across Tennessee — a coveted perch that they have now achieved three times in four years.
Monday’s win also sent Oneida to the substate for a second consecutive season, the first time the Lady Indians have made it to the sectional in consecutive years since an impressive 11 straight years between 1992 and 2003.
Taking care of business in Monday’s elimination game wasn’t as easy as it had been during the regular season. Twice, the Lady Indians had seen their games against the Green Wave feature a running clock in the fourth quarter, as Oneida won by 36 points and 37 points against Midway.
But the Green Wave, who defeated Oneida in last year’s district and region championship games en route to a final four appearance in Murfreesboro, saved its best basketball for the postseason. Coach Mike Neal’s team entered the postseason as the No. 6 seed in District 3-A, but entered Monday’s regional semifinal just one step away from the substate.
At times, it looked like Oneida was going to make short work of Midway. The Lady Indians jumped to a 13-2 lead out of the gate, forcing turnovers in bunches and making life miserable for Midway’s offense.
But the Green Wave clawed back, cutting it to 16-11 early in the second quarter.
Again Oneida went on a run, building a 33-20 lead by halftime. But again Midway fought its way back, cutting into the lead in the latter stages of the third quarter after it had ballooned to 18 points.
Kendyl West had 17 points for Oneida. Katelyn Stiltner added 14 points and eight rebounds. Jayden Thomas had seven rebounds to accompany nine points.
Oneida forced Midway into 24 turnovers, and out-rebounded the Green Wave 26-19.
Midway made its first four shots of the second quarter to power one of its many runs. But the Green Wave then missed their last four shots of the second quarter and their first four shots of the third quarter. By then, the Oneida lead had reached 18 points.
ONEIDA (56): West 17, Stiltner 14, Thomas 9, Boyatt 6, Terry 4, Newport 3, Wisner 2, Martin 1.
MIDWAY (41): Cawood 14, Prinzi 14, Tilley 6, Taylor 5, Beason 2.
Oneida 84, CSAS 37
Oneida’s Lady Indians are a win away from a return trip to the Class A substate, after an 84-37 win over the Chattanooga School of Arts & Sciences in the Region 2-A quarterfinals at OHS Gymnasium on Friday evening.
The Patriots were not deterred by their size (they dressed only nine players), their youth (they had only two players who weren’t freshmen or sophomores) or the drive (it is 2 hours and 45 minutes from downtown Chattanooga to Oneida), and hung around for most of three quarters against the District 3-A champion.
The game was never in doubt; Oneida was up 9-1 before CSAS hit its first field goal, led 21-10 after the first quarter, and was up 36-18 at halftime.
Still, the Patriots managed to keep the game closer than many expected before the Lady Indians’ depth and strength simply took over in the second half.
Oneida scored 48 points in the second half. After it was a 13-point game in the latter stages of the third quarter, the Lady Indians closed the period on a 12-2 run to go ahead 60-31 as the fourth quarter began. They kept it going in the final period, closing out the game on a 24-6 run.
It was 48-29 late in the third quarter, before Oneida ended the game by out-scoring CSAS 36-8.
Jayden Thomas had 18 points to lead Oneida. Chelsea Newport added 12.
Niyia Houston had 15 for CSAS, while Deyonna Lansden added 14.
Chloe Terry, who had a big night against Wartburg in the District 3-A championship game and had 3-point shots to bookend a 24-7 run by the Lady Indians in the third quarter, again had timely 3-pointers in the third quarter of Friday’s game. She hit back-to-back long-range shots to help the Lady Indians finally break the spirit of the Patriots.
As a team, Oneida hit 10 shots from 3-point range and shot 53 percent from there. Overall, the Lady Indians shot 51 percent from the field and was 5 of 8 from the free throw line.
CSAS shot just 35 percent and did not hit a 3-pointer. The Patriots were 8 of 16 from the free throw line.
Oneida’s defense continued to play strong, forcing CSAS into 32 turnovers, with 18 of them coming in the first half.
In all, 12 different Lady Indians scored points.
ONEIDA (84): Thomas 18, Newport 12, Terry 8, West 8, Martin 8, Stiltner 8, Pike 8, Boyatt 4, Manis 3, Keeton 3, Wisner 2, Cross 2.
CSAS (37): Huston 15, Lansden 14, Mayes 2, Benn 2, Stinson 2, Thompson 1.