WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Lady Pirates defeated the Minford Falcons Thursday night by a score of 46-34. Despite struggling from the field, the Pirates truly had a team scoring effort as five players all had seven or more points.
Both teams struggled to find their shot early. Wheelersburg seemed to stifle Minford’s offense early, especially with their ability to quickly pressure the ball. Wheelersburg scored the first nine points of the ballgame. Finally, with 1:30 left in the first, Minford got on the scoreboard. By the end of one Burg was up by a score of 9-4.
The Pirates kept up the pressure and pulled off a 7-0 run to start the second quarter. Minford, now down by 12 points, took a timeout. Coming out of the break they decided to switch to a 2-3 zone. It payed off for the Falcons, as they countered with a 7-0 run of their own and held the Pirates scoreless the rest of the quarter, for a score of 16-11 going into the half.
The third quarter started off faster and with more energy, as both teams came out scoring. Minford managed to not only come back and tie the game, but take their first lead with two minutes left to go in the third. The Pirates, who had played a very composed game up until halftime, broke down a bit and suffered seven turnovers. Despite that, they managed to come back and take a one point lead into the final quarter thanks to a huge steal and transition bucket by Ellie Ruby.
With four minutes left in the game, the Falcons were still only down by two points, 35-33. Abby Grasso had provided a lift for Minford, with three 3 point shots on the night. Erin Daniels led all scorers on the night with 12 points. However, Minford would score only a single point off a free throw opportunity the rest of the game. Wheelersburg picked up their defensive tenacity and Minford was forced to send them to the line in an effort to extend the game. Together, those two factors led to Burg outscoring Minford 17-6 in the quarter and surviving a great effort from the Falcons.
“Wheelersburg is so well coached,” admitted Minford Head Coach Scott Caudill. “They are very athletic. We knew they are very quick. They were closing out so quickly on the shooters in the first, it’s hard to really match up against them at times. Our girls were starting to get a bit timid so we decided to come out in a 2-3 zone. It started really working for us. We forced some turnovers and it started going well. We chipped away at the lead, but what can I say? We need to find a way to close out games. With Webster and twice against Burg we have been so close but not got those breaks and it’s our fault. We get behind and we have to foul in order to give ourselves a chance.”
“Our girls came out of halftime knowing that they didn’t play that well but believing we could still win the game. We just made several mental mistakes throughout the game. We just want to go out there and close out a big game. Our girls are hungry, they are loving the game and they are still loving coming to practice. That’s the hardest thing in mid-January. I want them to keep coming out and having fun.”
Minford hosts the West Senators Monday at 7:30.
Wheelersburg will travel to Fairland Saturday to take part in Tri-State Hoops. They will face Boyd County (KY), tipoff is at 6:15 P.M.
Wheelersburg’s Head Coach Dusty Spradlin managed to get his 201st win, after pulling off another big win earlier in the week against the South Webster Jeeps.
“It was a real struggle,” said Coach Spradlin. “Grasso got hot for them, she hit a few three pointers and it seemed like anytime they needed a shot they got one. It seems like it’s contagious. We missed a lot of shots, and we kept saying that we had to find a way to still guard people. You can’t allow your offense to affect your defense. We managed to pull of some little things, an offensive rebound or a fast break, that became huge for us. I didn’t think we played awful but we didn’t shoot the ball at all. I just hope we don’t shoot like that Saturday,” laughed Spradlin.
“We were playing great defense, especially in the first and fourth quarters. They just managed to claw their way back into the game and actually take the lead for a bit. It was a real team effort tonight. Like I told the girls, sometimes in the tournament things don’t go as you plan. You have to be able to win even if you aren’t great offensively. Minford made us work for every single thing in the half court. We were able to get some things in transition that really got us going there at the end. That really propelled us to the win.”
Minford 4 7 17 6 34
Wheelersburg 9 7 13 17 46
Minford: Daniels 12, Grasso 11, Shepard 5, Blankenship 4, Risner 2
Wheelersburg: Kallner 11, Holden 10, Salyers 9, Ruby 7, Coleman 7, Akers 2
Reach Derrick Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @DC__Parker