WHEELING-With Wheeling Central's all-state guard Emily Bucon sidelined indefinitely because of a knee injury, Linsly jammed everything but the team bus in the lane trying to contain Colleen McCormick, the other half of the Maroon Knights' dynamic duo.
The Cadets' sagging zone that often had the 5-foot-9 McCormick triple-teamed whenever she touched the ball worked for a while but not long enough. After taking just one shot and going scoreless in the opening quarter, McCormick took over the game. She fired in 23 points and pulled down 20 rebounds in leading once-beaten Central to hard earned 47-43 victory against their city rival Thursday night.
''I'm really, really frustrated and really proud at the same time," said Cadets' coach Erica Hall after her team just came up short in its bid to knock off West Virginia's No. 3 ranked Class A power. ''We threw everything we had at McCormick. She is an awesome player."
When she couldn't find room inside to shoot the ball, McCormick stepped outside and drained two key 3-pointers. The three-year starter was also perfect from the free-throw line, hitting 9-for-9, including four key free throws in the final minute.
''We need these kind of games from her," Central coach Penn Kurtz said. ''I was hoping we would come out a little calmer than we did, but we let their press rattle us.
''With Emily, we attack the press and look to score. These guys were not comfortable enough to attack it, and we let Linsly stay in the game."
It was a typical intra-city battle from start to finish as neither team backed down despite the physical play. The biggest margin of the night was eight points late in the first quarter when Emma Cecil's one-hander from the elbow put Linsly in front 13-5.
However, Knights junior Delaney Denniston rebounded a teammate's missed shot and turned it into an old-fashioned three points with a hoop and harm conversion just ahead of the buzzer.
Linsly's fast start was helped out by freshman Morgan Brunner's five points on a layup and a 3-pointer from the right sideline.
''Our pressure defense was great in the first quarter," Hall said. ''But I think we got a little lackadaisical because McCormick wasn't scoring. We lost track of her a few times and she showed up real quick."
Central's first lead came at 16-15 with 2:27 left in the half as McCormick's first 3-pointer and two free throws along with a foul shot by Lindsey Baker helped erase a five-point Cadets advantage. Baker drained two more foul shots to put the Knights up by three. Late in the half, Linsly closed the gap to 21-19 on a runner from 12 feet by J.J. Jackson.
The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter and free-throw shooting turned out to be decisive. Linsly missed its first seven attempts before finished four of 13. Central, meanwhile, netted 16 of 20 from the line.
Linsly had three double figure scorers, led by Brunner's 16 points. Jackson followed with 12 points and seven rebounds while Cecil had 11 points. McCormick was Central's lone double-digit performer but Denniston provided some key help coming off the bench to contribute eight points.
The Maroon Knights were hit with still another knee injury early in the fourth quarter when Cate Calissie took a hard fall to the court and was helped off the court. After the game, the concerned Kurtz said that Calissie's knee will be evaluated today to determine the extent of her injury.