Central Girls Blast Shadyside

Defense Stifles Tigers in Rout

Photo by Kyle Lutz Wheeling Central’s Riley Bennington drives to the basket during Saturday’s game vs. Shadyside.

WHEELING — Wheeling Central and Shadyside have played a number of classic games through the years.

Saturday’s game wasn’t one of them.

Wheeling Central used a suffocating defense to force Shadyside into 12 first-half turnovers and held the Tigers to 25 percent shooting for the game in a 70-36 rout at the Wheeling Central gymnasium.

“That was a little bit of a surprise,” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “We played them four times in the summer and didn’t beat them once so to come out like we did in the first half made me very happy.

“Especially when we got Eden Gainer in foul trouble, everybody got in and contributed,”

Wheeling Central (9-1) opened on an 11-2 run. After Shadyside’s Macy Coffland scored to make the score 12-5, the Maroon Knights ran off the 14 points, stretching into more than halfway through the second quarter.

Wheeling Central closed the first quarter out strong as Taylor Duplaga, after a Shadyside turnover, gathered in her own miss and scored. Then Kaylee Reinbeau stole the ball and coasted in for an easy layup to beat the buzzer.

The Maroon Knights scored more points in the first quarter (17) than Shadyside had in the first half (14) and more points in the first half (41) than Shadyside had total.

Wheeling Central’s lead stretched to 40 points in a fourth quarter played mostly by the bench players.

“We were shell-shocked early on,” Shadyside coach Serge Gentile said. “They got up 12 real quick and we just couldn’t overcome that quick start.

“We have been playing pretty well all year, but (Wheeling Central) just happened to be 40 points better than us (Saturday).  They are a very good team and we didn’t come ready to play.

“They were more aggressive and came at us right off the bat. The great thing about basketball is you usually don’t have to wait a week to play.

“We kinda do. We don’t play again until Thursday, but when we get back in the gym on Monday, we will be solely focused on Caldwell. We won’t totally forget this game, but you have to move on quickly. We didn’t play up to our potential. We were never really in a comfort zone because of their pressure so give them credit.”

Wheeling Central and Shadyside will meet again Jan. 18 at Shadyside in a game that could play a big factor in where the two teams seed in the OVAC Class 2A Tournament. Currently, the Maroon Knights lead the division, while the Tigers are in third.

Kurtz expects that game to be much different than the one Saturday.

“Our defense was giving us easy baskets and they are a great shooting team so we had to make sure we didn’t give them a lot of open looks,” Kurtz said. “That was really the game plan going in. Put a lot of pressure on them. Our defense led to our offense.

“Everything went our way (Saturday) but we play them again in a couple weeks and it could be exactly the opposite. We just have to keep working and get better.”

Duplaga paced the Maroon Knights with 19 points, followed by Reinbeau’s 18.

No Shadyside player reached double figures and reserve Julie Hendershot was the high-scorer for the Tigers (8-4), scoring six points in mop-up time.