Prep girls basketball: Defense lifts Jackets past Crusaderettes

PARKERSBURG – Silver and gold is the more appropriate saying during this holiday season unless you are the Williamstown girls basketball team throwing a zone press called hot and gold.

In a Little Kanawha Conference North Division battle Friday night at Parkersburg Catholic High School, the Yellowjackets’ chaotic defense not only helped erase a 20-point deficit in the first quarter but also caused 38 Crusaderette turnovers in a 91-75 victory.

“I thought our energy was not good in the first quarter, and the only reason we went to a press was to increase that energy,” Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said after his ballclub improved to 5-4 and 3-2 in LKC North. ‘We wanted to make them make mistakes and it worked out really well for us. I’m tremendously happy with those last three quarters because the things we’ve been trying to teach the girls are coming through.”

Sauro didn’t apply the heat until after his team fell behind 28-8. In the next eight minutes which ensued, PCHS turned the ball over 16 times and the Yellowjackets converted on the offensive end for 30 points – including 10 from freshman reserve BreeAnn Reynolds, who finished with a team-high 22 points.

“BreeAnn is a shooter who never lets the last miss bother her,” Sauro said.

PCHS (2-8, 1-3 LKC North) maintained a 42-38 lead into in halftime, but Crusaderette coach Marty Vierheller knew the pressure wasn’t going to ease up. Instead, the Yellowjackets kept the intensity at full-throttle and poured in 53 points in the second half.

Even though they didn’t record a steal in the first quarter, the Yellowjackets finished the game with 21 – including five from freshman point guard Ashley Morris, who turned in a stat line of 13 points and 10 assists.

“Ashley has a great handle on the offense,” Sauro said. “She has great court vision. Her shooting is improving – we’ve really addressed her shot somewhat. I think there is a really bright future for her.”

After nine lead changes and two ties to open the first six minutes of the second half, Williamstown went in front to stay by outscoring PCHS 9-2 to complete the third quarter. The Yellowjackets carried that momentum into the final period as Samantha Dedrick and Morris accounted for the first two buckets to increase the gap to 68-60.

On two occasions, the Crusaderettes sliced the deficit to four points, including once on a putback by Alex Schaffer. The junior finished with 23 points and 17 rebounds.

Nearly three minutes elapsed between the next PCHS field goal, and by that juncture Williamstown’s advantage was double-digits at 80-70.

“We couldn’t get out of our own way,” PCHS coach Marty Vierheller said. “After a great start, we allowed them them to crawl right back into it. They could have panicked when they were down 20. Instead, they made us panic.”

Joining Schaffer in double-digits in the scoring column were Alexis Saunders with 15 points and Reily Sturm with 13 points. Saunders contributed 10 points as PCHS made 67 percent (12-of-18) of its attempts from the floor in the first quarter.

“We did a good job of executing in the first quarter,” Vierheller said. “We have five scorers on the floor, and we went out to make something happen during that time.

“In that second quarter, Williamstown did a better job increasing the tempo than we did at adjusting to the increase in tempo. There were times we just handed them points.”

Also scoring in double figures for Williamstown were Cami Mossor (16), Dedrick (15) and Allie Robinson (12). Melissa Cieslewski just missed a double-double after finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds.