WHEELING - Coming off a tough, physical game against John Marshall the previous night, Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz was concerned the Maroon Knights would get off to a slow start in Thursday afternoon's clash against Charleston Catholic.
He was right on that point, but once the Central girls got things in gear, they had no problems rolling to a 58-35 victory against the smaller, inexperienced Irish.
Charleston Catholic (1-5), which has just two seniors on its nine-player roster, fell to 1-5 this season. The Maroon Knights, getting double-digit scoring from Cassie Sorge and Colleen McCormick, pocketed their seventh victory in nine starts.
Sorge hit for 15 points, including a trio of 3-pointers while McCormick, the recipient of several unselfish passes from her teammates on the perimeter, ended with 13. Angela Sparachane provided some offensive spark by coming off the bench to collect nine points and also help Kurtz's team to a 30-21 rebounding advantage.
''I expected us to come out a little flat," Kurtz said. ''That was a pretty intense game (Wednesday). John Marshall never let up on us and I really couldn't rest anybody.''
Thursday, the Maroon Knights trailed only once when Charleston Catholic jumped in front 3-0 on Anna Whelan's 3-pointer from the left sideline. Julia Palmer's two free throws put Central ahead to stay 4-3 at the 4:20 mark of the first quarter. Then back-to-back treys from Sorge and Bri Robbins enabled the Knights to lead 12-9 heading into the second quarter.
With 4 minutes remaining in the half and Central leading 17-13, Kurtz decided he needed to remind his girls about getting the ball inside where they had a big edge in size.
''I took that timeout in the second quarter to emphasize that their tallest girl was only 5-6 and we just needed to get the ball in to Colleen and Angela,'' Kurtz said. ''Sometimes we settle for outside shots when we can do a lot better. Once we started getting the ball inside, we added to our lead and in the third quarter we played as well as we can play.''
After the timeout, McCormick scored Central's next eight points, beginning with a stickback. Her next two baskets were layups after she received excellent entry passes from Palmer and Emily Bucon. Late in the half, McCormick was fouled on another drive to the tin and she cashed both foul tosses for a 25-16 lead. Palmer's one-hander from just to the right of the free throw circle put the Knights up 27-16 entering the halftime break.
Sorge opened the third quarter with a triple from the right wing, followed by Bucon's steal and coast-to-coast drive as the Knights doubled the score (32-16) on the visitors.
After Anna Wood hit 1 of 2 from the line to get the Irish on the board in the second half, Sorge dropped in another 3-pointer and Sparachane found McCormick free inside again for an easy lay-in. Sorge had eight points and Sparachane added seven in the quarter while sparking a 24-10 run that put Central in front 51-26.
''We're playing well in spurts," Kurtz said. ''We just have to have more spurts.''
Robbins and Sorge helped lead the pressure defense that forced Charleston Catholic into 20 turnovers.
Charleston Catholic's only double-digit scorer was Morgan Eggleton with 11 points off the Lady Irish bench.
''We are a young team but I think we are getting better faster than we realize,'' Charleston Catholic coach Ashley Shepler said. ''Playing games like this against good competition is going to help us in the long run. We played hard but obviously the better team won.''