Gallery by Heather Belcher
New Richmond – Prior to this week, Wyoming East and Greenbrier West were not scheduled to meet this year in girls basketball.
However, cancellations brought the two unlikely adversaries together.
With both teams having room for a pair of games, East and West decided to meet in a home-and-home series over the next two weeks.
The first meeting was Wednesday night inside the War Zone and sophomore sensation Cadee Blackburn was not exactly a welcoming host.
Pouring in 36 points to nearly outscore the visitors on her own, Blackburn guided the Warriors to an 81-37 win.
“She was good tonight, especially in the second half. She started off a little bit slow, but I thought our ball movement was better today,” Wyoming East head coach Angie Boninsegna said. “We got the ball around the perimeter and we were finally hitting the shots. She lit up, especially in the second half.”
After Maddie Clark had scored eight points to help East build a 12-8 with just under two minutes to play in the first period, the Warriors ran off 10 straight and began to spread the game.
A 3-ball from Blackburn got things rolling before Clark found her free for another score. Blackburn struck again from deep thanks to some crisp ball movement from her teammates which gave her a clear look at the rim.
A stickback from Abi Baker capped the run and the lead never fell back inside single digits.
Clark finished with 19 points on the night and Baker added eight off the bench.
“When those two (Blackburn and Clark) get going offensively, it really helps us out a lot,” Boninsegna said. “We got other people involved tonight (as well). Abi Baker came in and got us some points. We had about six or seven that scored.”
Greenbrier West pulled within 10 points on two occasions in the second quarter, but trailed 34-17 at the break.
“Our defense picked up tonight. Charleigh (Price) came in and played really good for us,” Boninsegna said. “At times we are kind of mismatched against people. They are bigger and stronger where we are more guard oriented body types.”
After scoring 15 in the opening half, Blackburn turned up the gas in the second half.
An offensive rebound by East midway through the second period was tossed out to Abby Russell. Russell then whipped the pass to the corner where Blackburn drilled her fifth 3-pointer of the game for a 44-21 lead.
The 23-point lead was where the game stood with eight minutes to play.
“The biggest thing I saw tonight on our behalf was we got out-hustled. When they are in transition, we can’t have five of their girls back and two of ours back. By out-hustling us, they were able to score a lot of points,” Greenbrier West head coach Mark Agee said. “When we weren’t getting out-hustled, they had a really good 3-point shooter from the corner. You can’t take anything from them. they are a good basketball team and well coached.”
Before heading to the bench midway through the final quarter, Blackburn knocked down two more long balls for seven on the night.
Making matters worse was the fact that East gave the Cavaliers fits on the boards for extra opportunities to score.
“We hit the offensive boards better than we have in the last couple of games,” Boninsegna said. “If we are not getting boxed-out, we have to go get the ball.”
Agee knew his team was in for a tough battle facing a team with such great speed and defensive tenacity.
“They run the ball very well and that is another reason I wanted to come and play (Wyoming East). My girls really haven’t seen a team that fast,” Agee said. “James Monroe and Webster County move the ball pretty well, but we haven’t seen anyone move the ball in transition like (Wyoming East).”
Facing numerous days off from playing due to the game cancellations, Agee saw great benefits in playing the No. 2 ranked team in Class AA.
“This is absolutely great for my girls to see something that they might see if they get to states. It is a very good practice for them,” Agee said. “It is hard to go 10 days without a game. I would rather come down here and play, win or lose.”
Wyoming East will make the return trip to Charmco, Friday, Feb. 17.
Next up for the Warriors is a trip to Bluefield Friday night, while Greenbrier West will play at Summers County Monday.
GW: 8 9 14 6 – 37
WE: 22 12 20 27 – 81
Megan Poticher 9, Ava Barclay 2, Preslee Treadway 17, Abigail Thomas 4, Brilee Redden 3, Kenna Fields 2. Totals: 12 13-25 37.
Maddie Clark 19, Kayley Bane 3, Abby Russell 2, Cadee Blackburn 36, Abi Baker 8, Alivia Monroe 4, Charleigh Price 6, Kenna Price 3. Totals: 28 17-28 81.