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Logan Darnell/Coal Valley News - Sherman's Caraline Nelson drives hard to the basket as, Buffalo's Kelsey Templeton defends.

By LOGAN DARNELL

For the Coal Valley News

SETH - The final few games of the regular schedule are coming, and the Sherman High School Lady Tide (10-7) have been fortunate enough to hit defensive strides toward the end. As a team that already possesses offensive heavy hitters, the more confident defense is a welcome addition.

According to coach Terri Dawn Williams, "I think we're heading in the right direction, defensively. We've switched a few things, switched some people around, and I think it's helped us and helped us at the right time."

Another chance for the Lady Tide to keep the improvement going would come in the form of the Buffalo High Lady Bison (6-10). Coach Williams hoped to limit drives to the basket in this contest, which has been a point of practice for the team. The team would also focus on securing defensive rebounds.

Sherman's freshman breakout player Hailea Skeens opened up scoring. While it looked as if Buffalo would quickly match their form when junior Kelsey Templeton and freshman Abby Darney tied the game 4-4, Sherman began to make plays that steadily created a healthy lead. They shut down many Buffalo attempts, holding them to 7 points throughout the first quarter. Buffalo heavily focused on defending against center Dejah Busby, only allowing her room to score 2 points early on. The Lady Tide handled this in kind by taking advantage of the open spaces created by Buffalo's defense and scoring 16 in the first eight minutes with contributions by Skeens, senior forward Zoie Hess, sophomore guard Caraline Nelson, and sophomore guard and dedicated utility player Amber Maloskey.

The second quarter was a messier one for Sherman, as Buffalo forced many turnovers that quickly turned into points. Six different Lady Bison recorded points during the quarter, with Abby Darney leading the way. Finally, sophomore Joni Smith brought Buffalo's score within two points of Sherman's lead, 23-21. Sherman needed to regroup. Fortunately for them, a time out gave them the chance to do so and they returned to the game bringing the score to 28-23 before the half time buzzer. In this time, Zoie Hess went to the line twice and made all four free throw attempts.

Sherman gained control once more and scored 14 points to Buffalo's 9 in the third quarter. Skeens sank two 3-point shots, and the team looked on top of things once more. The final quarter looked much the same, with Nelson and Skeens earning six more points each to add to their scores.

On the other side of things, Buffalo still never gave up. Darney, who already led her team, nearly doubled her points in that quarter alone. She ended the evening with a grand total of 19 points in what was a solid game for her. In the end, Sherman secured a 60-45 victory over the Lady Bison ahead of another bout with Lincoln County (9-8) the following night.

Afterward, Coach Williams shared her thoughts on the game. She started by noting that Buffalo took the initiative to hold back Busby. Though the senior did score 9, it showed the effort put into marking her by the visiting team. That said, the rest of the team stepped up well to fill the gaps. The turnovers in the second quarter were an issue, but the coach and the team remedied it well.

"We got Caraline back in the game," Williams said. "Our offense runs through her. She's our point guard and a leader on the court. We had to get her back in the game, and she calmed everything down."

For the Sherman Coach, the end of the regular schedule and the incoming sectionals are a good time to be showing the skill Sherman has, and she anticipates the team going out to give it their all every time.

Hailea Skeens led the Lady Tide in points with 18, with three 3-point field goals made. Her score was followed up by Caraline Nelson with 14 and Zoie Hess with 11.

Sherman will begin sectionals following the completion of the rest of the regular schedules. Buffalo plays Point Pleasant (3-15) on Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.

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