WHEELING - After coming up short in big games so far this season, the Shadyside girls' basketball team wanted to make sure that history wouldn't repeat itself when it came into their matchup with Wheeling Park.
Even when the team was down by as many as 15 points in the first half, the Tigers kept fighting and were able to come back and beat the Patriots, 57-45, in Wheeling on Thursday night.
"They're hard-nosed, they're gritty and they'll just keep battling and battling," Shadyside coach Tina Yates said of her team. "This is a big win. We've had a few games where we've been right there and haven't been able to overcome the hump. We started off down and just had to fight back the whole time."
Shadyside’s Kristen Fijalkowski dribbles around the guard of Wheeling Park’s Danielle Kutrovac during their game on Thursday night.
Haley Robb started the game for Park (5-3) with back-to-back 3-pointers as the Patriots raced out to a 15-2 lead midway through the first period and led 29-14 with 1:15 left in the second before the Tigers (5-5) went on a 6-0 run to close out the half.
"(Kenzie) Fielding had a big putback at the end of the first half that really sparked us going in at halftime," Yates said.
The nine-point halftime deficit gave the visitors hope as Shadyside came out determined to cut into Wheeling Park's lead.
The Tigers then used a 13-4 run to close the gap to within three at 37-34 heading into the final period.
After Fijalkowski started off the fourth with two makes from the free throw line, Hayley Holenka gained control of the ball off of a Wheeling Park turnover, raced down the court and put in a diving layup to give the Tigers their first lead of the game, 38-37.
Robb regained the lead for Park on its next possession, but it was short-lived as Karli Bonar nailed a 3-point bomb to put Shadyside ahead to stay.
"We started off a house of fire, then we lost our spark and went down hill after that," Patriots coach Dee Davis said. "We couldn't buy a basket. I don't know if they beat us or we beat us.
"Emily (Puskarich) had some nice shots that she'd hit nine out of 10 times, but it just wouldn't fall for her tonight. That happens, but there's other people on this team that needed to step up. This is a team sport."
The Robert Morris recruit finished the game with 13 points, but was held to only four in the second half.
"We wanted to know where (Puskarich) was at at all times because she's a heckuva player," Yates said. "They're a real good team and we knew coming in we would have to keep an eye on her at all times."
Robb led Wheeling Park with 16 points behind two 3s.
Holenka paced Shadyside with 22 points while Fielding ended her night with a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Bonar and Fijalkowski each finished with 11 points apiece.
"It was a total team effort," Yates said. "They were all boxing out, went after rebounds and knocked their foul shots down. We've been working on foul shots. They get in that mind frame that they're going to go in, and we've been making them. I just hope we keep making them."