Beckley – Class AA No. 1 Wyoming East started and finished its matchup with Class AAAA No. 5 Spring Valley well.
Unfortunately for the Lady Warriors their offense went MIA for the 18 minutes in-between.
The Lady Warriors scored just eight points in the middle two quarters, falling 49-36 to the Timberwolves Wednesday in the New River CTC Invitational at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Accustomed to slow starts as of late with second-half explosions in their previous two games against Mingo Central and Summers County, East never could generate easy, open shots against Spring Valley’s size.
The result was their first loss of the season and an abysmal 21 percent field goal percentage on 23 shots in the first half, one that eventually improved to 29 percent for the game after a fourth-quarter burst.
“They’re big inside,” East head coach Angie Boninsegna said. “Dria Parker and Allie Daniels take up a lot of space inside and we had some trouble getting adjusted to it. We got in some foul trouble so we had to adjust but I’m really proud of the kids because they fought really hard. I’m proud of the ending but we just got out of sync on our offense and had to work really hard on the defensive end. They’re a good team too and all of them are bigger than us. I think we can learn from this though.”
Accustomed to generating turnovers and points off of them, East had to rely on its half-court sets after its defense only forced six first-half turnovers. That played into the hands of Spring Valley.
After the Timberwolves scored the first two baskets of the game Colleen Lookabill fired back with a 3 for East which took the lead on its next possession when Kayley Bane grabbed an offensive board and capitalized to give East its first and last lead of the game. A jumper from Allie Daniels and a three-point play from Brooklyn Ellis pushed Spain Valley’s lead to 9-5 but the Lady Warriors eventually answered with a a pair of Maddie Clark free throws and a Bane trey that tied it at 10 with 2:23 left in the first quarter.
Afterwards the East offense froze over.
From that point until the end of the third quarter, a span of 18 minutes, the Lady Warriors mustered just eight points on three made field goals and trailed by as many as 19 late in the third quarter.
The Spring Valley defense held East’s guard-oriented attack in check all night limiting East’s leading scorer Cadee Blackburn (16.6 ppg) to just one point while their second-leading scorer Maddie Clark (12 ppg) was held to six on 1 of 7 shooting.
“We’ve got two really good defenders out there on the wing,” Spring Valley head coach Bo Miller said. “Haleigh Crum is a really good defender and Dria Parker did a really good job on her girl. Allie Daniels can just control the lane and contest everything so it’s difficult to shoot over her.”
Spring Valley on the other hand excelled nailing 54 percent of its 22 shot attempts in the first half, building a 27-14 advantage behind Brooklyn Ellis who scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the opening half. Ellis along with Hallie Bailey broke East’s defense down to generate easy looks with Bailey dishing seven assists.
“That’s our offense – dribble-drive,” Miller said. “We beat the first girl and either got a two-on-one in the lane or a kickout for a 3. We got by a lot of girls tonight and made it look easy.”
The tables turned in the second half as Spring Valley made just four field goals, shooting 19 percent but East’s 19-point deficit proved too much to overcome. The Lady Warriors cut it to 10 with under four minutes to play but stalled there.
“I was pleased with our effort towards the end but we got stagnant in the second and third quarter,” Boninsegna said. “We’ve got to be a little more aggressive going to the hoop and we dod a little more in the fourth. I told them we’ve just got to go after them and play.”
Bane led East with 13 points and was the only other player aside from Ellis to score in double figures.
East drops to 7-1 and will travel to Logan Saturday for a rematch of last year’s Class AA semifinal matchup against St. Marys.