Sectional Crown Fits Whg. Central Again
Cameron is own worst enemy in Class A defeat
MOUNDSVILLE — When you play defense like Wheeling Central does, what it can do offensively sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.
The truth is, this is a team where any number of players can put up points in bunches, especially when its up-tempo offense is clicking on all cylinders.
That was the case Friday night as Wheeling Central didn’t allow Cameron to get comfortable, pushing the ball all game long en route to capturing a West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One championship with a convincing 57-32 victory at the John Marshall Field House.
“It was a little sloppy, but we got the pace we wanted to,” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “We missed some shots we normally make and too many fouls. In the second half, we settled down and forced them into some turnovers.
“I thought we could have been a little more under control, but overall I was happy with our intensity and how we were able to pressure the ball.”
Three Maroon Knights players scored in double figures in a balanced effort. The leading scorer was sophomore Eden Gainer, making her second appearance since a shoulder injury forced her out early in the season.
Gainer hit her first three shots on her way to a game-high 17 points.
“We are thrilled to have her back and what I liked (Friday) was that her 3-point shot wasn’t working, so she made other shots,” Kurtz said. “She started taking it to the basket, put up a couple short ones, running the floor. She just makes us a different team.”
Fortunately for Cameron (22-2), it lives to fight another day. Although this is one game film Coach Roger Cain might want to burn.
Everything that could have went wrong for Cameron did, much of it self-inflicted.
The Dragons committed 27 turnovers, many of them coming by losing control of the ball or throwing it out of bounds. They shot 11 of 38 (29 percent) and opened each of the final three quarters not scoring until at least three minutes had passed.
Probably the biggest factor in the loss was Cameron’s free-throw shooting: 9 of 25.
“That is a tough choice to pick,” Cain said when asked what hurt the most. “We worked so hard this week on different things and (Central) gave us a lot of pressure and we got out of sync. Both of those are going to lose games for you and that is something we have to work on before next week to be successful.
“Offensively, we weren’t doing the things we were supposed to do. We just weren’t moving and were stagnant on offense.”
Wheeling Central (21-2) led 18-12 at the end of the first quarter and started the second on a 10-0 run. It opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run — the first two baskets coming on steals and easy layups from Taylor Duplaga, including making a conventional three-point play.
In the fourth, Wheeling Central scored the first eight points and held Cameron to four during the final eight minutes.
Joining Gainer in double figures was Duplaga with 14 and Reinbeau with 12.
Kelsie Meintel paced the Dragons with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Wheeling Central will play host to Ritchie County on Wednesday in a Region One Co-Final. The Maroon Knights defeated Ritchie County in the first round of the state tournament last season.
“We will study some film, get ready to go and try to do the same thing we’ve been doing all year: up the tempo, put the pressure on them and see what happens,” Kurtz said.
As for Cameron, the road to a first trip to the state tournament goes through New Martinsville. Cameron has played Magnolia twice this season, winning both times.
“We are going to expect them to give us a challenge again,” Cain said. “They are a really good team. We are going to be prepared. They have two really good bigs that are hard to guard. We are up for the challenge. This was only our second loss here (Friday) so we aren’t far away.
“We know we are a much better team than that scoreboard showed. Some easy fixes and no matter who we step on the floor with, we know we have a chance. (Friday) we just didn’t have it all together.”