Williamstown too much for Ritchie County

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Williamstown’s Jenna Pridemore (12) guards Ritchie County’s Andrea Kirk during a high school girls basketball game Tuesday in Williamstown. Williamstown won, 62-51.

WILLIAMSTOWN — A sluggish first quarter proved costly for upset-minded Ritchie County here Tuesday night as No. 4 Williamstown survived the Rebels, 62-51, in a Little Kanawha Conference West Division tilt.

The Yellowjackets turned an early 9-6 lead into a 27-11 advantage after one quarter and the Rebels of head coach Dave McCullough had to play from behind the rest of the way, finally cutting it to eight points late in the fourth, but it wasn’t quite enough.

Bethany Arnold, who had a pair of three-point plays and put WHS ahead for good with a putback to open the scoring, finished with a team-high 17 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

“We over rotated our shoulders on post moves instead of just getting the angle on the board. We brought the ball down on offensive rebounds. We faded from the basket. We hesitated and we did that a lot,” admitted WHS head coach Fred Sauro, whose club hit 10 of 20 from the field in the opening period before missing 16 of 20 in the second.

“We’d drive into two or three people instead of kicking it out to the next guy. For us, I thought we played hard. I think we tried to play together, but we didn’t play really smart. I didn’t think we played as well as we could with our basketball IQ. Some of that we need to work more on special situations in practice.”

Abi Haught poured in a game-high 25 points for the Rebels, who dropped to 5-7 overall and 3-3 in the LKC West with a home game set for Thursday versus No. 2 Parkersburg Catholic.

Aleya Stanley’s deuce had the Rebels within three at 9-6 before WHS took control with a 14-2 run. Kayli Sauro started the spurt with two of her baker’s dozen counters. Nicole Reynolds’ basket and a free throw from Breanna Lowe capped it. Ashley Davis, who had five points and a team-high eight caroms, made a foul shot to close the period scoring.

Ritchie County opened the second quarter with consecutive field goals from Lauren Flesher and Andrea Kirk, who had six markers, six boards and three assists, but the visitors still trailed by a dozen, 38-26, at halftime.

Jenna Pridemore, who joined teammate Mara Rinehart in scoring nine points, put the ‘Jackets ahead 45-30 with 3:39 left in the third after she converted to give Lakyn Joy an assist. The Rebels closed out the stanza on a mini-run of 10-6 to narrow the gap to 51-40 entering the fourth.

It was 49-34 after a Reynolds lay-in with 2:04 on the clock, but Haught hit a 3, Soffi Bee had a steal and a layup and then a Haught foul shot made it 49-40. However, Rinehart closed out the quarter scoring with one of Williamstown’s 18 offensive rebounds and when she put it back the Rebels were behind by 11.

After Arnold’s second three-point play with 6:15 to play, it looked like Ritchie County was down for the count trailing 56-40. However, the Rebels eventually cut it to eight at 57-49 with 1:28 left when Davis got an inbounds pass to Haught and she scored inside.

“There were times there, we’d miss a layup and they’d get one,” said McCullough, who watched his freshman point guard Bee also collect seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. “That’s a four-point turnaround. The thing is, when you are down 27-11, you’re in trouble from the get-go. Then we outscore them for three quarters.

“We are a Jekyll and Hyde team. At times it’s frustrating for me, but I keep remembering it’s a 22-game season and we got to be our best at sectional time and see what kind of run we can do there.

Williamstown, now 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the LKC West, returns to action Thursday with a road trip to Tyler Consolidated.

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