Gallery by Heather Belcher
New Richmond – The Wyoming East girls are used to using their defense to secure victories, often forcing an excess of 20 turnovers.
Wednesday against Logan they again relied on their strengths on that side of the ball but instead utilized them in the half court.
On the strength of 10 blocks, the Lady Warriors held Logan to 2 of 11 shooting inside the arc in the first half and just one field goal in the entirety of the third quarter, handing the defending Class AAA state champions a 51-39 loss at Wyoming East.
A third-quarter spurt ultimately made the difference in the game with the Wildcats clawing their way out of 13-point deficits in each of the first two quarters. The visitors trailed 15-3 in the first quarter, eventually cutting the deficit to six early in the third but a 10-0 East run made the difference as the hosts picked up their fifth win of the season and fourth against a ranked foe.
“I think we had better shot selection,” East head coach Angie Boninsegna said of the third-quarter spurt. “We didn’t shoot well from 3 and we were like 2 of 11 and we talked about that at halftime. When we’re not shooting well we’ve got to set up our offense and run set plays and get good shots. They were a good team and aggressive. They had two bigs that could score in the paint and their guards were quick. We talked to them about an adjustment and not letting (Autumn Adkins) – we can’t help off her. When we left her open even a step she drained them. We had some slips but overall I was pleased with our effort.”
Boninsegna’s assessment of her offense was accurate with the Lady Warriors shooting 14 of 32 inside the arc and just 4 of 14 from outside of it. For the visitors the opposite rang true.
For the game the Wildcats were just 6 of 25 from inside the arc, but excelled from deep hitting 6 of their 12 attempts. Their touch from deep kept them afloat when they appeared to be sunk.
A 3-pointer from Abby Russell staked the hosts to a 6-0 lead early with a Bam Mosby free-throw getting the Wildcats on the board. A free throw and layup from Maddie Clark pushed it to 9-1 with Cadee Blackburn and Mosby trading buckets. Clark and Blackburn added cushion with a bucket each and at 15-3 with 2:58 left in the opening quarter, the game seemed destined for a blowout.
Then the visitors found their stroke.
Adkins canned a pair of treys on assists from Addyson Amick and Natalie Blankenship before Blackburn capped the quarter with a 3 to push the lead back to nine.
Adkins and the long ball again quelled East’s momentum in the second.
With the hosts up 13 again after a Gabby Cameron layup on a dish from Clark, Blankenship nailed a free throw and a 3 with an Adkins trey capping a 7-0 run.
“We haven’t played great,” Logan head coach Kevin Gertz said. “We lost four key, key players. We’re very young experience wise and at the positions we’re playing we’re very young. Our seniors are playing positions they haven’t played since buddy league or girls league and we’re learning. We haven’t competed at the intensity I expect but tonight we did. This was the best team and the best game we’ve played all year. If we played the other ones like we did this one we’d be 3-2 or 4-1 right now. But I’m proud of them and it’s a tough place to play.”
Trailing 29-21 after the break, Mosby brought the Wildcats to within six with a layup but the next seven minutes yielded an offensive drought for the visitors as they shot 1 of 8 from the floor in the frame.
“That’s our second highest point total of the year,” Gertz said. “We do that. We score 37 points in three quarters and score two in one. We panic a little sometimes on offense, rush shots, we don’t get enough ball movement or player movement and that’s my fault. We’ll work on that and get better but you’re not going to beat a team like this with one field goal in a quarter unless you shut the other one out.”
Logan’s struggles inside the arc were due in part to East’s length which allowed the hosts to block 10 shots with Gabby Cameron and Alivia Monroe rejecting three each in the game.
“We have to understand too if you face the basket and have one that’s four inches taller than you, kick the thing,” Gertz said. “But again 10 of our 14 players are freshmen or sophomores. Several of them played last year in the championship game and the state tournament but they’re all 14 or 15 playing against 17 and 18-year-olds. It’s different and we’ll learn but they tried to set the national shot block record tonight against us and they almost succeeded. We ate a few of them.”
Meanwhile five different East players chipped in to score during the 10-0 spurt that put the Lady Warriors up 16.
The advantage fell to nine points late in the fourth quarter but the game was already in hand.
Offensively Clark, who scored 18 in a home win against Logan last year, had her best game of the year with a 5-of-10 showing from the field but also dished eight assists.
“I think Maddie just needs to relax,” Boninsegna said. “She wants to carry the team on her shoulders but tonight was like the old Maddie. She relaxed a bit, made some nice passes and wasn’t tense. She’s been banged up a little bit but she’s gotten a little better physically … But this was her best game overall. She played well against Frankfort on Saturday but this was her best game overall. She relaxed, made good feeds, saw people and she had a 3-pointer she could’ve shot, faked and dribbled in for a short jumper. She played smart basketball.”
East (5-0) will take an eight-day hiatus before facing its fifth consecutive ranked opponent when it welcomes Mingo Central on Dec. 22. Logan will host Poca on Thursday.
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L: 9 12 2 16 – 39
WE: 18 8 10 12 – 51
Natalie Blankenship 12, Addyson Amick 2, Peytience Bragg 1, Halle Crouse 5, Autumn Adkins 12, Payton Butcher 1, Bam Mosby 6
Colleen Lookabill 5, Maddie Clark 13, Kayley Bane 5, Abby Russell 5, Cadee Blackburn 14, Alivia Monroe 3, Gabby Cameron 6
3-point goals – L: 6 (Blankenship 1, Adkins 4, Crouse 1); WE: 4 (Lookabill, Clark, Russell, Blackburn)