WHEELING - Nothing short of impressive.
That has been the story for Coach Meredith Dailer's Wheeling Park girls' basketball team through its first five games.
After a four-game run that included victories against Steubenville, North Marion, Parkersburg South and Morgantown, the Patriots welcomed an inexperienced Brooke group to the Palace on the Hill Thursday night.
Wheeling Park’s Krista Crawshaw (42) spins away from Brooke’s Amber Govey (12) during Thursday night’s game at Wheeling Park High School.
Photo by Rick Thorp
To say the least, Park's stretch continued with ease.
Every Patriots starter scored at least nine points, paced by 21 from junior standout Emily Puskarich, and Wheeling Park rolled to a quick 8-0 lead and never looked back in pounding the Bruins by an 85-26 count at Wheeling Park High School.
The victory moves Dailer's squad to 5-0 on the season heading into a confrontation Saturday afternoon when talented Shadyside, which advanced to the Ohio Division IV state tournament a year ago, travels up the hill.
In what could have been a sandwich game coming off of the victory against the Mohigans on Tuesday, the Patriots made sure to take care of their business Thursday.
"This was the kind of game you have to be careful with and stay focused," Dailer said. "And we did a very good job of that. We were also lucky enough to get everybody a good bit of game experience.
"Overall it was just a very successful night for this team."
Brooke (1-4) was never really able to hang onto the basketball and Park made it pay dearly. A total of 12 first-quarter turnovers led to a 21-6 lead after a period.
The second quarter brought seven more miscues, lending a hand in a 35-11 margin at halftime. Even with Dailer subbing regularly in the second half, the Bruins kept turning it over and the Patriots kept scoring.
A 15-0 run to open the third was a precursor to a 60-16 advantage after three before Wheeling Park opened the fourth on a 19-0 tear that extended the lead to 79-16 at that point.
First-year Bruins coach Ryan Scherich watched his team turn the ball over 39 times in all, a statistic made even more glaring by the fact that Brooke managed to take only 38 field-goal attempts in the contest.
"We are a young team, and for most of these girls this was basically their fifth varsity game," Scherich said. "And the problem is that they are used to a jayvee tempo and when you play a team like Wheeling Park, which is really going at varsity speed, you have a problem.
"You can't turn the ball over and you have to hustle. Park won the hustle factor (Thursday). When they had a breakaway the whole team managed to get to at least the foul line. But when we had one, we didn't hustle down the court, and then we didn't hustle back on defense."
Dailer did agree that transition points played a big part in her team's lopsided victory.
"We did an outstanding job forcing turnovers early on, and even in the third quarter," Dailer said. "There is no question that transition points were our bread and butter.
"I am very pleased at how effective the kids played. Sometimes a game like this can be a challenge. But we met the challenge in many ways. Give a lot of credit to Krista Crawshaw, who dominated on the offensive glass.
"Rebounding was also big. We saw the rebounding stats at the half and were very pleased, and it just continued in the second half."
Junior Haley Robb contributed 18 for the winners while Crawshaw had a double-double with 14 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Sophomore Kelsi Johnson finished with 10 points and nine caroms. Marissa Tucker also had nine.
Freshman Angela Staffileno paced the Bruins with eight points and eight rebounds.