WELLSBURG -In football teams will go into a two-minute offense to close out a half.
In the West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One championship game, the Wheeling Central girls essentially went on a three-minute drill to end the first half as the Maroon Knights broke open a tightly contested game with a 13-2 run and Magnolia could not recover, resulting in a 57-34 Central victory.
''We got off to a slow start, but once we kicked it into gear, we got some easier shots,'' Knights coach Penn Kurtz said. ''Their zone did a nice job of taking Colleen (McCormick) away. We had to get it out in front and get some easy layups and that got the game going for us.
Wheeling Central’s Colleen McCormick (3) drives past the guard of Magnolia’s Grace Berisford.
''In the second quarter we jumped into our press and that seemed to rattle them a little bit,'' he continued. ''It forced them into turnovers and we were able to get some separation. We just did a couple of things to change it up.''
The Blue Eagles (11-12) gabbed the momentum early and led 7-3 midway through the first before an Angela Sparachance bucket followed by two more from McCormick gave Central (20-4) its first lead at 9-7.
After Mallory Chapman hit a jumper to make it a five-point game at 18-13 late in the second, Emily Bucon made a diving layup and put in the subsequent free throw to spark Central's big run.
Buckets by Lindsey Baker and Regan Blaha sandwiched a free throw by Ashton Cross that gave the Knights their largest lead at 15 following another layup by Bucon.
Chapman drained two free throws to stop the bleeding, but Beth Stayduhar nailed a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded to give Central a 31-15 advantage at the half.
''I think what happened is ability took over,'' Magnolia coach Mark Blair said. ''They are a little bit stronger than we are and they have more depth that we have.''
The Maroon Knights bench almost scored more points (14) than the Blue Eagles in the first half (15).
All together Central's subs totaled 26 points, highlighted by Blaha's 12.
''It's great to have that (depth),'' Kurtz said. ''For a coach, it's a luxury. Especially when you get into these games where it's up and down. When the tempo gets up, you need to get some fresh legs out there. That's a real luxury we have.''
A luxury that has proven its worth game in and game out all season long for the Knights.
''Any one of them can do it,'' Kurtz continued. ''Delaney Denniston can come in and shoot some 3s then Regan Blaha played great (Friday). They all have been our second- or third-leading scorer one game or another. They all short of take turns and we'll just go with the person with the hot hand that night.''
McCormick backed Blaha with 11 points, while Bucon and Baker finished with nine and six, respectively.
Chapman finished with a game-high 17 points for the Blue Eagles. Freshman Grace Berisford added 10.
''(Wheeling Central's) good,'' Blair said. ''They're well coached and have a couple of nice ball players.
''They have depth. We don't have a lot of depth. We are very young. We're still a work in progress.''
The Maroon Knights will play host to St. Marys in a Region One co-Final on Thursday, while Magnolia will travel to Trinity for the other the same night.