Central Girls Overcome Struggles, Defeat Cadets

Wheeling Central’s Eden Gainer (4)dribbles the ball down court as teammate Emilee Ondrick (11) and Linlsy’s Vivian Allison (12) chase her down. Photo by Kyle Lutz

WHEELING — Wheeling Central Coach Penn Kurtz watched all night long Tuesday as his girls’ basketball team struggled to put the ball through the hoop, hitting just 14 of 54 shots for a miserable 26 percent on the night.

However, while Kurtz could not possibly have been happy with those numbers, his Maroon Knights more than made up for it with a staunch defensive effort and a 26 for 34 showing at the charity stripe.

Freshman Kaylee Reinbeau had a career night with 25 points and 10 rebounds and once-beaten Central forced city-rival Linsly into 30 turnovers as the Knights overcame their shooting woes to post a prized 54-42 victory over the Cadets at their East Wheeling gym.

Kurtz’ squad made only three field goals each in the first, second and third quarters before hitting a game-high five in the fourth.

“We are a team that has to rely heavily on defense most nights,” Kurtz said. “And I was real happy to hold a good team like Linsly to just 42 points. I can tell you that we a tough team to beat when we play defense like we did (Tuesday).”

Neither team did a great job offensively early on as the Cadets (7-4) had the game’s initial three field goals and led 6-5 at the 2:22 mark of the opening period. But after missing their first nine attempts from the field, Central canned three of their final five to escape with a 13-10 lead after one.

Things didn’t get much better for the hosts in the second period, not hitting a field goal in the final 3:20 of the second, but still managing a 27-22 advantage at the half.

In all, Kurtz’ group was 6 of 27 from the field in the opening half, but gained the lead by hitting 15 of 18 free throws, while the Cadets got to the line just five times during that span.

With Manny Raymond hitting a pair of quick shots to open the third, Linsly managed to battle back into a 27-27 deadlock before the hosts closed the frame on a 10-2 run and a 37-29 upper-hand after three.

Wheeling Central (10-1), which had missed only three free throws through three quarters, missed five in the fourth, but made seven charity tosses and five field goals to hold off their rivals. Linsly never managed to get any closer than six, at 39-33, with 5:48 to play.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well all night, but finally did get some to drop in the fourth quarter” Kurtz added. “But Kaylee Reinbeau was a presence out there (Tuesday). She really stepped up big. We have been trying to get her to step out and take that shot and she did, and hit it.

“Linsly is a good team that is very strong inside, and they actually played better defense than we expected. But we were able to get them into some foul trouble and were aggressive taking the ball to the hole to get to the free throw line.”

Riley Bennington added 12 points and seven rebounds for the Maroon Knights, who grabbed an impressive 37-24 edge off the glass. Senior Vivian Allison paced Linsly with 14 points while Jazzy Orth chipped in 13 points, 13 rebounds and five steals. Mary Bedway was also in double-figures with 10 for the Cadets.

“Turnovers and fouls, it’s that simple,” Linsly coach Rebecca Upton said. “They are very fast and they force you to do what they want you to do. Our game-plan was to not let that happen, but they forced us out of it and it caused turnovers.

“This really is a great match-up and I am sure we will be a little more prepared and ready for them next time. They were able to take advantage of turnovers and we just didn’t.”

The Cadets actually hit more field goals than the Knights, 19-14, but made only nine trips to the charity stripe, hitting four. Neither team was able to cash in a three-point field goal on the night.