Gallery by Tina Laney
New Richmond – Thursday night inside the War Zone Class AA No. 1 Wyoming East had its hands full with No. 6 Mingo Central.
That was until sophomore sensation Cadee Blackburn caught fire in the second half and sent the Warriors home a 57-40 victory over the upset-minded Miners.
“Our goal was to put them away in the third quarter,” Blackburn said. “Usually our goal is to put teams away in the third quarter. After I made the first one I was feeling good.”
Clinging to a one-point lead at the break, the game separated in the first three minutes leaving Mingo Central (7-1) chasing Wyoming East the rest of the way.
“We talked about effectively doing what we could do. We still missed some layups in the second half, but overall we were much better,” Wyoming East head coach Angie Boninsegna said about the halftime adjustments.
While the Miners were plagued by a pair of turnovers and empty possessions to start the second half, the Warriors took advantage and ran off seven straight points.
“We had two straight turnovers that set the tone and it kind of spiraled down from there,” Mingo Central head coach Kim Davis-Smith said.”We have to be smart. We had some mental lapses because we were fatigued also. Then we got caught up a little bit in their physicality, but they are kids.”
Blackburn scored on a stickback before Colleen Lookabill gathered a loose pass from the visitors and took it coast-to-coast for a score.
The next Mingo turnover went into the hands of Blackburn who converted a traditional 3-point play when she was fouled on the ensuing layup.
When the third quarter horn sounded, Blackburn had tallied 13 points and the Warriors led 36-27.
“She is a very streaky shooter and she was huge. She was the determining factor and the turning point of the game,” Davis-Smith said.
Three free throws and another triple from Blackburn off a kickout from Maddie Clark made it a 15-point game and the visitors looked done for the night with six minutes to play.
That was not the case as the pesky Miners got four made free throws from Madison Curry and a long ball from Addie Smith to quickly crawl back within eight points.
With her team now reeling a bit, Blackburn took the in-bounds pass, weaved through the defense for a momentum killing layup. The sophomore standout drilled another 3-pointer on the next East possession for a 13-point lead with just under four minutes to play.
“The final score definitely doesn’t indicate the game for sure. We know this is always going to be a difficult place to play. We came out strong, but we have to be able to finish,” Davis-Smith said. “We have to be able to play with their physicality. That was a determining factor for us.”
Mingo Central owned the first quarter and built a 14-4 lead before East held the Miners to one field goal in the second quarter.
“We want to run our offense and not try to do things outside of our comfort zone, or things we haven’t practiced,” Davis-Smith said. “We did that really well in the first quarter. Then we kind of waned in the second quarter. It went on into the third quarter and then they got hot.”
While the defense was working for the home team in the second period, senior Abby Russell was delivering the offense by scoring nine points.
“Abby played really good for us. She hit some bigs shots and scored on some penetration in the second quarter. Luckily she kept us in the game.,” Boninsegna said.
East (6-0) took its first lead of the game when Clark scored on a layup just ahead of the halftime buzzer off a fast-break assist from Blackburn.
“You have to give them credit for coming out fast to start the game. If we could have hit a layup in the first have that would have been wonderful,” Boninsegna said. “We challenged our team’s toughness after the first quarter. We felt like they came out and were tough on the boards.”
Blackburn ended the night with 24 points followed by Russell and Bane with nine each. Clark added eight points and also had six rebounds, seven assists and six steals.
Smith led the Miners with 15 points, while Megan Adkins added 10. Curry and Delaney Grimmett had eight points apiece and Curry grabbed eight rebounds.
“Overall I thought we stepped it up defensively and Maddie Clark did a great job tonight,” Boninsegna said. “That is what we have to do. We are not very big, so we have to be gritty and create some turnovers on the other end.”
MC: 14 4 9 13 – 40
WE: 4 15 17 21 – 57
Megan Adkins 10, Delaney Grimmett 8, Madison Curry 8, Addie Smith 15.
Colleen Lookabill 5, Maddie Clark 8, Kayley Bane 9, Abby Russell 9, Cadee Blackburn 24, Alivia Monroe 2.
3-pointers – MC: 4 (Smith 4); WE: 7 (Blackburn 4, Russell, Lookabill, Bane).