GLEN DALE - Following Thursday night's second-half collapse at Shadyside, Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz talked to his squad about the importance of playing better as a team.
The Maroon Knights listened.
Ten players got in on the action - three scoring in double figures - as Wheeling Central got back on track in a big way with a 55-35 triumph against Indian Creek in the semifinals of the John Marshall Holiday Tournament.
Wheeling Central's Bri Robbins is defended by Indian Creek's Kristen Shimko.
Central will return to John Marshall High School at 8 tonight to face the host Monarchs for the championship. JM rallied to down Parkersburg South, 59-47, in Friday night's nightcap.
''When we play that way that's when we're at our best,'' Kurtz said of the team effort. ''When we rely on a few people to score, that's when we struggle.
''When we get everyone involved, we're better.''
Cassie Sorge poured in a game-high 19 points for Wheeling Central, which was in control from the start. Emily Bucon added 13 points, while Bri Robbins chipped in 12.
The Maroon Knights (4-2) jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 3 minutes and led 14-6 after the first quarter.
Central started the second quarter on a 7-0 run and the rout was on.
''Sometimes you have to learn through losses,'' Kurtz explained. ''I thought we played much better (Friday).
''We were more patient on the offensive end. They're so tall and you have to put a lot of pressure on their guards and we were able to do that and force some turnovers, which resulted in some easy baskets.''
The youthful Redskins (1-4) were paced by their two 'bigs' - freshman Bre Berryman and sophomore Kiarra Kamarec, who scored 18 and 10 points, respectively.
Berryman stands 6-foot-5 and Kamarec is an imposing 5-10. Together, they present a strong presence in the paint. But Friday night, Central's Colleen McCormick and Angela Sparachane kept their damage to a minimum.
''They did a great job,'' Kurtz said of his defensive stoppers. ''It also helped that our guards were pressing so they couldn't make really good entry passes.''
Central held Creek to 18 points through three quarters.
''In the first half we could've folded, but we corrected some things in the second half and got a little more confidence in our shot,'' Indian Creek coach Erin DeSantis said.
And gaining confidence is something that is coming slowly, but surely, for DeSantis' group.
''Our goal every practice is to work hard and get better,'' she said. ''We've been in this position before and we know we can be successful. We just have to make sure (the players) keep believing.''