Gallery by Heather Belcher
New Richmond – Coming into the season Wyoming East Angie Boninsegna has preached growth.
In Tuesday’s season opener, despite the defending Class AA champions pulling out the win, they showed why she’s exercising patience.
Leading by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter, the hosts withstood a 14-0 run to beat Class AAA Shady Spring 53-41 in New Richmond.
After shooting 45 percent from the floor in the first half and leading by 17 at the intermission, the Lady Warriors took their foot off the gas in the fourth, turning the ball over seven times in the opening four minutes. The mishaps piled up and with less than four minutes to go the Lady Warriors saw their lead shrink to just eight points.
A timeout by Boninsegna helped calm the storm.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Boninsegna said. “We’ve just got to learn and adapt when we’re not shooting the ball well. It’s a good learning experience for us. This is a very young team that has one starter back and hasn’t really played a lot together in a big spot like that. Overall we found some things we need to work on but some things that we did okay.”
Defense, the calling card during last season’s title run, was on display for the Lady Warriors again in the first half as they held the visitors form Raleigh County to just 28 percent shooting form the floor, scoring the game’s first 13 points.
Part of the reason for that success was the play of East junior Colleen Lookabill, who was tasked with guarding Shady star Kierra Richmond. Lookabill held Richmond to four points on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, coming away with five steals on the evening.
“Colleen did a really good job,” Boninsegna said. “We started her on Richmond and rotated her off a little bit with Maddie (Clark) because Maddie had to run the offense. She played hard and I’m hoping as the games go on she’ll gain more confidence in herself and offensively. We believe that she can do it, but she played a really good game defensively.”
On offense, freshman point guard Cadee Blackburn efficiently ran the show for the Warriors, scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, including a 3-for-3 showing from behind the arc.
The same couldn’t be said for the Shady offense, as the struggles continued into the second quarter. A 2-of-9 showing from the floor put the visitors behind 17 at the break.
“We haven’t shot that cold in practice or anything,” Shady Spring head coach Brandon Bennett said. “I mean we couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean in that first or second quarter. It really makes it hard to win the game when you’re down 17 at halftime. We had a heckuva an effort to come back in the fourth quarter and even had the basketball but just had a lid on it in the first half.”
The script flipped for both teams in the second half.
After playing an even third quarter, the Lady Warriors skidded to the finish line, shooting 11 percent from the field on nine attempts, but converted at the free throw line, nailing eight of their 10 attempts.
Meanwhile the Tigers caught fire, running off 14 straight points behind 42 percent shooting in the half. A large part of that was due to the play of Richmond, who scored 16 of her game-high 20 points after the break. Eight of them came during the run that cut the deficit to eight points with under four minutes to play. The spark largely came by turning defense into offense as a defensive adjustment caused the Lady Warriors to play out of control.
“We went into a little bit of a press there,” Bennett said. “We had a little but of foul trouble and you get a little bit concerned when you jump into a press. We had some fouls early so we were really weary to go into that early. Kierra had some foul trouble and so did Kellie (Adkins). We were concerned to jump into that with the reaching but we did it late and out worked late.”
Following a timeout after the run, Boninsegna’s crew rightened the ship, holding Shady to a single point the rest of the way.
“I think we tried to do too much,” Boninsegna said. “When we move the ball down like we can do, we were getting shots at layups. We can’t dribble through three people. We’ve got to move the ball and rotate like we can and we’re fine.But we rushed so much. We were playing like we were behind instead of up. When we broke the press we made. turnover towards the end of it. We just need to settle down and realize what the score is sometimes.”
Maddie Clark finished second to Blackburn in scoring with 15 points but hauled in 12 rebounds for a double-double. Richmond was the only Tiger in double figures.
Wyoming East will return to action on Dec. 11 when it plays Parkersburg Catholic at Logan in a rematch of last season’s Class AA title match. Shady Spring will host Grafton on Friday.
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SS: 7 9 10 15 – 41
WE: 17 16 10 10 – 53
SS: Kierra Richmond 20, Brooke Gibson 5, Kellie Adkins 4, Brook Lipford 4, Braylee Wismena 2, Kendra Pizzino 6; WE: Hannah Blankenship 7, Maddie Clark 15, Kayley Bane 4, Colleen Lookabill 5, Cadee Blackburn 17, Alivia Monroe 5.