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Rebels run by ‘Jackets

Cress leads Ritchie to first win over Williamstown in 13 years

Photo by Joe Albright Ritchie County’s Sophie Nelson (3) brings the ball out after defensive rebound in the first half during the Rebels’ 62-56 win on Monday at home over Williamstown.

ELLENBORO — With leading scorer Rebekah Rupert dealing not only with foul trouble but a stifling defensive effort from Williamstown after the first quarter, Ritchie County needed someone to step up. Minus their most decorated offensive player, the Rebels were looking at yet another potential loss to the Yellowjackets.

Of course, it didn’t need to be just one person. Still, Olivia Cress filled in the role well.

By tallying team-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds, the junior rallied the Rebels past Williamstown, 62-56.

She earned praise from her head coach for the effort.

“That’s what we know she can do. She can be a scorer and we know she is going to get out and run and she is just a flat-out athlete. Any kid who can high jump like she does when she gets to the basket it is tough,” Ritchie County head coach Dave McCullough said.

Almost from the opening tip, Cress made her name known from rebounding, defense and around-basket-shots. Her eight first-quarter points combined with seven of Rupert’s 14 points helped the Rebels gain some breathing room. By the time the opening period ended, the lead was 17-11. Cress added six more points in the period before half that helped give the Rebels a 33-23 lead at the break.

Yet, she got herself in foul trouble in the period after halftime and Williamstown took advantage. By attacking the basket and with a few timely 3’s, the Yellowjackets whittled the lead down to four on Nicole Reynolds’ shot shortly before the end of the quarter.

“We changed our defense and were more aggressive too,” said Sauro.

Cress’ rebounds before she fouled out at the end of the game kept the Yellowjackets from gaining any more momentum after they cut the lead to two points with just a few minutes left in the game. The shots simply weren’t there for Fred Sauro’s group.

McCullough also credited his girls for ball security in the closing minutes.

“We didn’t turn the ball over as much as we did against St. Marys. We had 31 and I doubt we had that many but we still had too many,” McCullough said.

Despite the loss, Sauro, who got 20 points from Nicole Reynolds and 18 points from Jayla Wiseman, was pleased with his team’s effort.

“The way we were on Saturday night playing St. Marys I thought our kids really battled today. This is a good Ritchie County team they have so many things they can do well. I don’t think we blocked out really well and we have to learn to be a little tougher inside. They were big and strong and did a really good job. I am proud of my kids, they battled,” he said.

Parkersburg High transfer Sophie Nelson added 13 points for Ritchie, while Rupert grabbed 11 boards.

Both teams shot around 40% for the game. Ritchie County hit on 23 of 54 attempts, while Williamstown connected on 20 of 52 shots.

Fresh off their first win over Williamstown in 13 years, the Rebels (1-1) look to start a winning streak when they host Wirt County at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Yellowjackets (0-2) look for their first win over the season when Ravenswood comes to town at the same time and on the same day.

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