WHEELING - Linsly girls' basketball coach Erica Hall stressed the importance of the ''Two Rs," - running and rebounding - prior to Monday night's game against highly regarded Weirton Madonna at the Stifel Field House.
Hall didn't have to say much about the ''H''-word - Hustle - because that is what she expects from her young and improving club every time it takes the court.
Going after, and successfully coming up with nearly every loose ball along with dominating underneath the offensive glass, the Cadets raced out to a big lead in the opening half on their way to upsetting the Blue Dons, 58-46.
Freshman Damonique Patterson and sophomore J.J. Jackson both turned in double-doubles as Linsly improved its record to 5-7 while handing Weirton Madonna its third loss in 13 games .
Patterson scored 25 points, including 16 in the first half while sparking the hosts to a 35-19 lead. Jackson took over during the fourth quarter by connecting for 12 of her 16 points, enabling the Cadets to stave off the late rally that saw the Blue Dons trim their deficit to four points.
''I'm so proud of them," Hall said. ''We beat a very good basketball team. Our game plan was to run and rebound. We knew that we couldn't get into a half-court game with them because of their size. I'm really excited about the team we are becoming. We played hard for four quarters and when the game got close, the girls didn't panic.''
The Blue Dons, whose other two losses occurred at the hands of West Virginia Class A state-ranked powers St. Marys and Wheeling Central, led the Cadets only once and that was the ouset when Melanie Mazur hit a one-hander.
Jackson and Carolyn Tolbert then connected on back-to-back 3-pointers, followed by the quick-footed Patterson's slick drive to the basket for an 8-2 Linsly advantage.
Patterson hit on 4 of 5 attempts in the first quarter and the Cadets opened a nine-point edge before Madonna rallied to within 17-14 by taking the ball inside resulting in several opportunities at the foul line.
Lisa Parkins drained a 3-pointer to knot the score at 17-17 at the start of the second quarter, but Linsly ran off the next six points to take the lead for keeps.
Morgan Lee's transition basket was followed by two free throws and a runner by Patterson for a 23-17 lead. Tolbert, who scored 10 points overall, cashed two more triples in the second quarter to help the Cadets open their 16-point halftime advantage.
''This was a tale of two halves," Blue Dons coach Don Ogden said. ''In the first half we were a little flat but, you know what, I give all the credit to Linsly. They came out on fire and it seemed like they got every loose ball and rebound.
''In the second half, we did pick up the intensity but it wasn't enough for us to bring us all the way back.
Isabella Anile led the Madonna charge in the third and fourth quarters when she scored 12 of her team-high 18 points. Parkins came through with seven of her 15 during the game's final quarter.
The Blue Dons were able to trim half of their 16-point deficit in the third quarter thanks to Anile's nine points. It was 42-34 entering the fourth quarter and Madonna got to within 47-43 at the 2:39 mark after a hoop from Parkins and an Anile free throw.
Then the speedy Jackson got behind Madonna's defense for a layup, followed by another Patterson inside basket that put the Cadets in front 51-43.
Another 3-pointer from Parkins cut the deficit to five at the 1:58 mark, but Blue Dons failed to score the rest of the way.
Jackson's two free throws and a second breakaway bucket increased the lead to 55-46 with less than a minute remaining. Tolbert's foul shot and Patterson's bucket concluded the scoring.
''I can't say enough about our rebounding," Hall said. ''We had the two girls with double-doubles in Damonique and JJ, but Krista Emch had nine rebounds and Morgan Lee also came off the bench to also help out."
Patterson's quickness inside and scoring ability impressed Madonna's coach.
''She hustles and gets down the court very well,'' Ogden said. ''It's tough to stop her inside when she wants to take the ball to the basket."