For The Intelligencer
SHADYSIDE - It was business as usual Monday night in Shadyside.
Top-seeded Shadyside took the first step toward defending its Wheeling Hospital OVAC Class 2A Tournament championship with a convincing 78-38 thumping of No. 4 Linsly in semifinal action.
The Tigers (17-2) used a mixture of their potent inside-outside attack to slowly, but surely, pull away from the Cadets (8-9).
With the victory, they will play No. 2 Wheeling Central at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday at OUE.
The Maroon Knights defeated No. 3 River 48-41 on Monday night.
"When we come out focused and ready to play, we're pretty tough to beat," Shadyside coach Tina Yates said. "(Monday night) was one of those nights."
With all five starters scoring in the first quarter, Shadyside held a 19-11 advantage as Linsly scored six of the final eight points to keep it close.
In fact, the Cadets pulled to within 23-15 just 90 seconds into the second period, but when the halftime buzzer sounded, Shadyside had reeled off 20 unanswered points and was cruising.
Three straight trips down the floor resulted in a trio of 3-pointers, one each by Karli Bonar, Hayley Holenka and Toni Andes that made it 29-15.
Then, senior Brooke Meintel, playing her last game on the home boards, took over. She netted eight of her team's final 10 points, and also grabbed eight of her game-high 13 rebounds in that span.
"We're very unselfish," Yates continued. "Give all of my kids credit. I'm fortunate to have a group of great, talented student-athletes who have an unbelievable work ethic. I'm blessed to be a part of it."
With its 'Big 3' of Bonar, Holenka and Meintel combining for 31 first-half points, Shadyside led 43-15. Meintel worked the paint for 13 points and wiped the glass clean nine times, while Bonar and Holenka evenly divided 18 points.
"Coming into the game we knew it was going to be tough," Linsly coach Erica Hall said. "They (Shadyside) have an awesome team, but we couldn't have asked for a better start. We made them work about a minute for their first basket and then we scored on our first two possessions.
"We lost our head a little bit there in the second quarter, and you can't do that against a good team like Shadyside. They definitely made us pay for that, but when we were patient on offense - we got a lot of good looks - but the ball just wouldn't fall."
Holenka led four Tigers in twin figures with 19. Bonar had 17, including five 3-pointers, while Meintel finished her double-double with 16. Freshman Kenzie Fielding came off the bench to chip in a dozen points and six boards. Bonar also handed out half-a-dozen assists.
"Kenzie has a lot of potential," Yates said of her promising 5-foot-8 post player. "She needs to come focused in every night."
The Tigers connected on 31 of 53 attempts for just under 60 percent, and also knocked down 9 of 16 shots from beyond the bonus arc (56 percent). They also enjoyed a 42-30 advantage off the glass behind Meintel's effort. Kristen Fijalkowski grabbed five rebounds.
Dominique Patterson led Linsly with 15 points. JJ Jackson and Krista Emch had eight each. Emch also pulled down nine rebounds. Both teams took especially good care of the basketball, as Linsly had nine turnovers, one more than Shadyside. The Cadets suffered five of those in the fateful second quarter, while only turning it over one time after the half.