ELIZABETH - Wirt County remained in striking distance for more than a half here Tuesday night, but visiting St. Marys was too much as the Blue Devils rolled past the Tigers, 68-33, in the Little Kanawha Conference and regular season girls opener for both programs.
St. Marys head coach Howard Meeks' squad, ranked No. 2 in the Class A preseason poll, received a game-high 15 points from Mikaela Britton. Pivot Kendra Walker tossed in 14 points and led all rebounders with 16.
The Blue Devils forced 39 orange and black turnovers. The Pleasants County program rolled up 23 bench points, led by Jordan Fox's nine, Alyssa Fetty's half dozen and Sara Fetty's five tallies.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Wirt County senior Miriam Smith takes an inbounds pass during Tuesday night’s home opener against visiting St. Marys.
Miriam Smith's 3-pointer from a Megan Burns dish late in the opening stanza followed by an Allie Bailey free throw kept the Tigers close after one, trailing only 10-8.
Turnovers continued to hurt the hosts in the first half. Head coach Jeff Smith's team had 13 giveaways in the first quarter and followed that with 10 in the second as St. Marys was able to forge ahead 27-14 at intermission. However, the Blue Devils had 16 turnovers, but attempted 15 more field goals in the opening 16 minutes. St. Marys, which heads Thursday to Tyler Consolidated to begin LKC North Division play, never trailed. Tari Ashworth's 3-pointer for part of her eight markers was the first basket of the season and came 1:39 into the affair. The Tigers only trailed by a baker's dozen at the break because Gwynn Smith's 19-footer banked in at the buzzer.
Early in the third quarter, an Alyssa Fetty triple was sandwiched between a pair of Walker inside deuces as St. Marys started to pull away. Following a Haley Everett layup with 2:03 to play in the third and a three-point play by Fox, the Tigers stared at a 43-19 deficit.
Wirt County, which shot just 28.6 percent (12 of 42) from the floor, received seven points apiece from Bailey and Gwynn Smith. Liz Adams grabbed 10 rebounds. Miriam Smith who like St. Marys starter Ashley Hall (four points) was in foul trouble, chipped in six points, six boards, four blocks, three steals and two assists. The Tigers face another tough foe on Friday at Charleston Catholic.
The Blue Devils dropped 28 of 68 field goal attempts (41.2 percent), but missed on 12 of 19 charity stripe tosses. Wirt County, which saw Fox and Jenna Nichols make five steals apiece, was less than successful at the foul line - missing on 16 of 24 attempts.