For the second time in the 2017 season, the Portsmouth West Lady Senators faced off against the Valley Lady Indians.
West won the first meeting between the two schools, 47-42 on November 27. Valley would get redemption on Thursday night at home in a major way, knocking off the Senators 59-32.
In the contest, West was without Makayla White, who was injured in a game against Waverly on Monday. With White on the sidelines for the night, the Senators needed other girls to step up on the court.
“Makayla is the heart and soul of most everything we do,” West head coach Jason Claytor said. “We kind of rely on her, sometimes probably too much, and I think games like this show. I’ve called her the security blanket of the team because they kind of are at ease a little bit.”
The Indians attacked the Senators with a pulverizing full court press, forcing turnovers and easy offensive opportunities throughout the night.
Hannah Conley opened the scoring for Valley with a nice attack of the basket and a layup to give her Indians a 2-0 lead with 6:27 in the first quarter.
Conley would finish with eight points in the game.
“In the first quarter she made some excellent moves,” Valley head coach Mark Merritt said. “She caught the ball with purpose, she checked the floor, and some of the passes to her were right on. In the quarter she ended up with six points, so that really started it off good for us.”
Bre Call hit a jump shot on the next possession for the Indians, which caused Claytor to take an early timeout trailing 4-0 with 6:01 in the first.
West would answer out of the timeout, as sophomore Morgan Rigsby went hard to the bucket and drew contact to head to the free throw line. Rigsby hit both foul shots, making the score 4-2 with 4:29 to play in the first.
In a contest that was very physical, Rigsby stood out and embraced the style of play.
“I keep saying it, but it’s a Morgan Rigsby game,” Claytor said. “She had 23 rebounds against Waverly the other night, and I don’t know what she had tonight but she’s everywhere.”
“She gets beat, and battered, and banged up and she finds herself in the right place.”
Valley spurted ahead on a quick 6-0 run later in the first finished off by sophomore Karsyn Conaway’s layup on a nice dish from Conley.
Conaway finished with a game-high 14 points for the Lady Indians.
“I thought Karsyn Conaway came in off the bench and did a really nice job for us,” Merritt said.
The sophomore did a great job of letting the game come to her, not forcing the issue, and keeping her teammates involved.
Trailing 12-5, the Senators scored with just 30 seconds in the quarter on a lay in from Rigsby. Rigsby led her team with 12 points.
After one, West was behind 12-7.
In the second quarter, the pressure from Valley combined with some well executed offense helped push the Indians out to a commanding halftime lead.
A Rigsby basket for the Senators at 5:40 in the second quarter to make the score 16-11 in favor of Valley would be the last score for West in the half.
The Indians relied on a 13-0 stretch from that point to take a 29-11 lead into the lockers.
Brooklyn Buckle scored five in the quarter, and Kaity Howard totaled six with several impressive jump shots.
“I thought Katie Howard had a really good first half, ending up with eight points in the first half,” Merritt said.
Bre Call added two points, Conaway hit a three, and Chalee Hettinger knocked down a free throw to round out the scoring in the second for Valley and give the Indians a big advantage.
Still very much alive, West ran into some trouble in the third quarter when Madison Compton picked up her fifth foul and had to exit the game.
“Losing Madi Compton, that hurt us,” Claytor said. “Between her and Makayla we’re talking around 26 points a game, so when you lose that much of your offense with no preparation.”
“We at least had a couple of days to know Makayla wasn’t going to play, but we didn’t realize we were going to be without her and Madi.”
As a result, the Senators had to look further for offense, and were only able to score six points in the third.
The Indians took advantage, scoring 18 points in the period.
Senior Maddie Wright had the last six points of the third for Valley, including a buzzer beating jump shot that hit the bottom of the net just as time expired in the third.
“Maddie Wright in the third quarter came out strong and hit three buckets for us,” Merritt said.
Heading in to the final frame of the action, the Indians led West 47-17.
Both schools continued to battle in the fourth, as the Senators kept grinding away despite trailing.
Emily Sissel made her presence felt for West in the period, scoring nine of her 10 points in the final quarter of action.
Sissel would hit five free throws in the quarter, and continued the fight for her Senators, who scored 15 in the fourth as a team.
For Valley, several different players contributed to the scoring in the last quarter of action.
Natalie Buckle hit two free throws, and Conaway added four more points to her total.
Bailee Day, Billie Jennice, and Hettinger all scored two points in the fourth for the Indians.
When it was all said and done, Valley came out on top with a 59-32 win in what was a complete team effort from Merritt’s squad.
“I had a lot of contributions from everyone and overall it was a good team win for Valley,” Merritt said.
On a night where Call, the team’s leading scorer, only posted four points, the Indians found other options to get it done.
“They’re going to pay more attention to Bre after she scored 21 and 24 points respectively in the last couple games,” Merritt said. “She knows it’s coming, and she did her part tonight with 10 boards.”
“She got in foul trouble and sat out about a quarter and a half, but still ended up with 10 boards.”
Valley (3-8, 2-6) has a tough game upcoming on December 28 against Clay.
“I think that’s going to be another fast-paced game,” Merritt said. “They’re going to go after our weaknesses with some press, and we’re trying to improve upon ours.”
“It’s going to boil down to handling their press and making the right passes, making the open shots, and finding the open people.”
West had a lot of obstacles to overcome against the Indians and their size.
“We don’t have size, they are way bigger than we are,” Claytor said. “In super physical games like that, we struggle. But, I thought our kids for the most part, we battled and some of them did the best we could.”
“Mark’s group has improved since the first time we saw them this year. I wish we would have been a full complement to see, because it was a tough game the first time.”
Still, the Senators head coach is making no excuses. Claytor says this game is certainly a learning opportunity for his girls.
“I read a statement from Michael Jordan that said he either won or he learned, he never lost, so it was either winning or learning,” Claytor said. “We’ll learn from it, watch a little film, and we’ve got a couple tough ones next week and we’ll see how we can do.”
Next up for West (3-5, 3-5) is an out of conference slate in the Ripley Holiday Tournament, beginning on December 28.
Reach Benjamin Spicer at (502)264-7318 on Twitter @BSpicerPDT or at Facebook.com/ReporterBenSpicer