AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The West Branch Lady Warriors are making it a habit of playing for district championships. Monday night the Warriors defeated the Southeast Lady Pirates 62-54 to advance to the championship game of the Division II Austintown District. The Warriors will take on Mogadore Field in the championship game Wednesday night at 7:00pm.
“”We’ve played a lot of games here and our girls are real comfortable and happy to play here. We bring out a lot of green and white, its awesome to see the crowd out in front of you,” Warriors Coach Walt DeSheileds said.
The Warriors came out strong as they forced the Pirates to commit five early turnovers and grabbed a 16-5 lead midway through the quarter. The Warriors senior guard Melinda Trimmer would connect on a basket at the buzzer that gave the Warriors a 12-point 27-15 lead at the close of the period.
“Our goal was to come out as hard as we could. We really like to force the other team to call a timeout and to get a big lead on them early and keep putting pressure on them,” Trimmer explained.
“Coming out and putting twenty-seven on them in the first quarter was a clinic,” DeShields remarked. “They had to call a lot of timeouts and switch their defenses, but it really didn’t matter what zone they were in, we dissected it. We moved the ball well, we screened well, and we got a lot of easy looks inside and out.”
But the Pirates seemed to settle themselves and battled the Warriors evenly throughout the second quarter trailing 41-28 at the halftime break. Trimmer once again connected on a jumper at the buzzer to give the Warriors momentum going into the locker rooms.
However, the Pirates were not phased by the end of the half as they went on a 9-2 run to start the second half and only trailed by 6-points with 4:53 remaining when Emma Rankin connected on a three pointer. By the Warriors responded as soon as they got the ball back when Emily Menegay answered with a three pointer of her own.
“A big shot for her,” DeSheilds said. “She’s not afraid to shoot the ball. She struggles at times from the perimeter, but hey it’s tournament time. She made a huge shot and hopefully that gives her some confidence. She didn’t think about it.”
That big shot ignited the Warriors as they stole the Pirates next possession with Trimmer hitting another basket pushing the Warriors lead back out to 9-points. They would go on a 12-4 run to close out the third frame, holding a 58-41 lead.
In the fourth quarter the Warriors slowed the game forcing the Pirates to foul while milking the clock. The Pirates would outscore the Warriors 11-6 in the final period.
Kaylee Manning led the Warriors with 16 points on the night while Trimmer and Pavin Heth each scored 15. Erica Johnson hauled down 9 rebounds while heath added 8, along with Trimmer added 12 assist.
The Pirates were led by Daniell Norquest and Madison Dunn both scoring 13 points, and Emma Rankin added another 11. Danielle Norquest also grabbed 8 rebounds on the night.
This was the first game that the Warriors had been tested in quite awhile. Something that Trimmer actually enjoyed, “Actually we did play Ravenna (District semi-finalist) awhile ago and it was a good game, and we played South Range that was a good one for us. Actually South Range was a lot similar to Southeast.”
The West Branch improves to 24-1 on the season while Southeast closes out the year with a 21-4 mark.
COURTESY – Lowell Spencer