Central Seeks Revenge

WHEELING – It was a game the Wheeling Central Maroon Knights wanted to forget.

Now, Central will look to avenge its mid-January loss to Trinity when the two teams meet Wednesday night with a chance to advance to the state tournament on the line.

“We’ve only watched it one time,” Central coach Penn Kurtz said of the Trinity game film. “The girls didn’t even want to watch it once because they thought it was so bad.”

In what Kurtz called “weird game,” the Knights jumped out to an early 11-3 lead only to see the Warriors battle back and take a halftime lead. Central then managed only three third-quarter points and found itself in foul trouble.

“I think they shot 27 free throws and we only shot nine,” Kurtz said.

That was in Morgantown. This time, it’ll be in the No. 4-ranked Knight’s East Wheeling gym, a place where the team is 5-3 this season.

That may not be a problem for the No. 8 Warriors, though, as they are 7-4 on the road this season.

“Both teams will do what they do,” Kurtz noted. “Trinity is pretty consistent. They’ll run their three-court trap and their presses.”

According to Kurtz, the Warriors will look to get the ball inside to senior post player Jackie Halapy for much of their offense.

“How we deal with her will determine who moves on to Charleston,” Kurtz said.

Trinity (13-6) is 8-2 in its last 10 games and enters the game off a 55-49 loss to St. Marys in the Section Two championship game.

The No. 2 Blue Devils (20-1) will face No. 9 Magnolia (12-9), who fell to Central in the Section One title game, in the other Region One championship game Wednesday night.

St. Marys’ lone loss came at the hands of the Knights.

The victory, a 58-37 triumph on Central’s home court, came during a span of five games against opponents who had a combined record of 95-5. Kurtz points to St. Marys victory as the real turning point of the season.

“St. Marys has become a rivalry with us the past couple years” Kurtz said. “They knocked us out of the state tournament last year. I think the girls were really amped up to play them. I don’t think they have ever experienced that kind of intensity before and it has really helped them out.”

Since then, Central (13-10) has steamrolled Bishop Donahue, 55-33, in a sectional semifinal before it survived a huge Magnolia rally and hung on for a 68-59 victory against the Blue Eagles.

Sophomore Lindsay Baker scored a game-high 21 points on 9 of 14 shooting in the victory.

In her past four games, Baker is averaging 21.3 points. The average could be even higher, but she scored only 15 points in limited time in the rout of the Bishops. In the victory against St. Marys, she had a game-high 29. “She’s really gained some confidence on the offensive end of the court,” Kurtz said of Baker. “Her defense has helped her lead into transition scoring. Really, our defense as a whole has gotten better. They’re getting in passing lanes and coming up with steals and that leads into easy layups. Lindsay, Regan (Blaha), Sydney (Bennington) and Mackenzie (Michaels) all have been playing really well.”