WHEELERSBURG – It’s not about how you start, it’s about how you finish. Such is the case with the Wheelersburg Pirates following their 53-46 non-conference win over Ironton on Monday night.
The Pirates trailed after the first quarter 16-10 but went on to win the last three quarters 43-30, good enough for a seven point victory at home.
“The first quarter, they came out and shot the ball well,” said Pirates head coach Dusty Spradlin following their win Monday night, “Doug’s teams always guard really well. I thought they had a good game plan coming in. It took us a little bit to get going, felt like we were a little bit slow off the start.”
Wheelersburg trailed Ironton 19-11 in the early stages of the second quarter. Yet once the Pirates found their groove offensively and settled in, it was their offensive production and strong defense that helped propel them to a home victory.
Abbie Kallner had a huge game for the Pirates by scoring a game high 22 points. Kallner may have led both teams in scoring, but it was really her unselfish passing towards the end of the first half that helped the Pirates score six crucial points at the rim: four from Karlie Estep who had a big game in the post, as well as rebounding the ball, and two from Kaylee Darnell who finished with 16.
“When things are going bad, Abbie’s the kid we’re going to look to,” said Spradlin, “I thought she was really good getting going late in that first quarter. And we told Karlie, ‘You’re going to have some opportunities there’. I thought she did a really nice job offensively, and thought she did a great job on the offensive glass.”
Even though Darnell finished with 16, around her average for the season, the talented sophomore guard was a little displeased with her own play, Spradlin suggested.
“Kaylee was solid with 16, she’s been playing really well. I think she would tell you one of her subpar games. But when you can get 16 points and you don’t really play your best, that’s pretty good. And we got contributions from a lot of people, everybody that played gave us something.”
The two that signify those contributions in the most significant way? Junior Lani Irwin and sophomore Lauren Jolly. Despite combining for one point (Jolly’s banked in free throw attempt), the two made hustle play after hustle play that really helped the Pirates bolster a seven point home win over Ironton.
“Those kids are defensive minded,” said Spradlin, “We’re trying to get them a little bit more offensive minded, because they’re going to have some opportunities. And they’re taking some steps. You have to realize last year Lauren played JV, and that’s a totally different role from this. Lani played a little bit of varsity but was mainly a JV player. It’s just trying to develop them, and they’ve been giving us great energy off the bench all year.”
It hasn’t been the easiest stretch of games since the start of the new year for the Pirates, and it doesn’t get any easier from here. After road games at Minford and Vinton County, as well as home games against Oak Hill and Ironton, the Pirates will be preparing for another three game week with contests against Northwest and South Point on Thursday and Saturday.
Wheelersburg: 10-16-10-19 – 53
Ironton: 16-6-19-10 – 46
Wheelersburg: 21 FG, 2 3PT (A. Kallner, Darnell 1), 9/14 FT. Scoring: Kallner 22, Darnell 16, Estep 6, Kallner 5, Keeney 3, Jolly 1
Ironton: 16 FG, 10 3PT (Stevens 4), 4/5 FT. Scoring: Stevens 18, Schreck 11, Hannan 9, Rogers 5, Williams 3
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT