Emma Randall

Shelby's Emma Randall drives past Vermilion's Marianna Plas during the Division II sectional semifinals Wednesday at Bucyrus' Alex Kish Memorial Gymnasium

BUCYRUS — Shelby started fast and never relented Wednesday.

Emma Randall scored a game-high 23 points as the Whippets cruised to a 72-38 win over Vermilion in the early game of a Division II sectional semifinal doubleheader at Alex Kish Memorial Gymnasium.

Third-seeded Shelby (21-2) will play No. 9 Lexington for a sectional crown at noon Saturday in Bucyrus.

The Whippets raced out to a 20-11 lead after the first quarter and pushed the advantage to 40-21 at the half. The game featured a running clock for the final half of the fourth quarter after Shelby pushed the lead to 35 points.

“I think we played very confident tonight and I like to see that heading into tougher games,” Lantz said. “If you see hesitation on the court, that makes you a little bit nervous as a coach.

“Obviously, each game is going to get tougher and tougher as we go. That is what we want to see, confident play both offensively and defensively.”

Sophia Niese

Shelby's Sophia Niese Drives for a layup in front of Vermilion's Audrey Peterson during Wednesday's Division II sectional semifinals at Bucyrus High School.

Randall, who had six steals to go with her 23 points, had plenty of help in the scoring column. Bailey Walter had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Ciera Gurney added 10 points, nine boards and five steals. Freshman point guard Sophia Niese added 10 points and six assists.

“With these girls and how welcoming they’ve been, they’ve helped me get used to playing at this level,” Niese said. “I’m a lot more comfortable now.”

The Whippets had 14 assists on 29 made field goals.

“I thought we passed the ball pretty darn well tonight,” Lantz said. “I still saw some things where we might not have cut as hard as we could have or what not. Those are small details, but they are small details that are easily fixed.

“I thought it was a good team finish.”

Marianna Plas led the Sailors with 17 points. Clara Smith added 10.

Mallory Bishop

Shelby's Mallory Bishop launches a 3-pointer against Vermilion during the Division II sectional semifinals at Bucyrus High School.

The Whippets have won five in a row after a 57-50 loss at Willard on Jan. 29.

“I think it’s been building, little by little,” Lantz said. “That chemistry is really strong right now. When you see one player who is very confident, then the next player is very confident and the next player is very confident and they’re high-fiving and very excited for each other, that’s huge.

“You don’t have one player doing everything. We have a lot of kids who can do a lot of good things.”

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I have covered high school sports in Richland County since 2000. Email him at curt@richlandsource.com or follow him on Twitter: Follow @curtjconrad on twitter.

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