South Walton beats Freeport, advances to district final

Tina Harbuck

One down, three to go.

After posting a 59-18 win over the Freeport Bulldogs Thursday night in the District 3 1A girl’s basketball semi-finals, South Walton Coach Kevin Craig marked one game off on the board in the locker room and told the team, “three more to go.”

With the win Thursday, the South Walton Seahawks advance to the district finals on Saturday where they will take on the Chipley Tigers at 7 p.m. in the championship game at South Walton High. Win or lose, both teams will advance in the playoffs with only two games standing between them and a trip to the Final Four in Lakeland.

As for the win over Freeport, “We did what we should do tonight. We really came out and played well,” Craig said.

“Everybody we play is going to run something different to stop Megan (O’Neal),” he said. Just last week, O’Neal scored 35 points in their last regular season home game.

“But we had some other people step up tonight,” Craig said.

“Hayley Seible was on fire and Megan was setting her up. Megan did a great job at getting her the ball.”

Seible was high-point player with 18 points, including five 3s.

“I thought Devany Beard had a heck of a game and Gracie Ricci … I thought they really played well,” Craig said.

“And Allee Coble had her usual. Allee never plays a bad game, some games are just better than others.”

Everybody on the Seahawk roster saw playing time with eight players putting points on the board.

Behind Seible, O’Neal hit for 12 and Ricci, nine. Beard and Coble each scored six, while Savannah Slade and Ellie Wiggins each scored three. Shannon Cole chipped in two.

To start, Freeport got on the board first with a 3-pointer from Brooks McBride, then South Walton went on a 28-point scoring spree. O’Neal and Beard got things going scoring the first couple of baskets. O’Neal and Coble hit back-to-back layups and Slade drove the ball inside to go up 10-3. The Seahawks mixed it up taking the ball in and working the outside perimeter. Seible finished out the quarter with two 3s coming in the last 25 seconds and final at the buzzer.

In the second quarter, the Seahawks continued to bury the Bulldogs outscoring them 16-3. Again Seible finished the period with a buzzer-beater 3-pointer for a 44-6 lead at the half. McBride scored the only 3-pointer in the second at the 2:36 mark.

With a running clock the entire second half, South Walton scored 10 in the third and five in the fourth. Freeport had their largest showing in the fourth with seven points.

“We’ve had trouble scoring all year,” said Freeport Coach Mike Myrick. “It’s the same thing we just can’t score. We’ve just got to work on that part and get better for next year. Good luck to them. They’ve got a fine team.”