Wheeling Central Takes Down Fort Frye in Semis

A 14-0 run to start the third is key to victory

Photo by Kyle Lutz Wheeling Central’s Riley Blaha (2) tries to get around the defense of Fort Frye’s Morgan Borich during their game Monday night in Wheeling.

A 14-0 run to start the third is key to victoryWHEELING — Every minute counts when it comes to basketball, and the first three of the third quarter was the difference in an OVAC 3A semifnal battle between Wheeling Central and Fort Frye.

The Maroon Knights came out after halftime and used a full-court press that gave the Cadets headaches. Wheeling Central used that to its advantage and scored the first 14 points of the quarter en route to a 59-45 victory over Fort Frye on Monday night.

Wheeling Central advances to the OVAC championship game where it will play the winner of the Buckeye Trail-Bellaire game at 12:15 on Saturday at Ohio University Eastern.

“We changed it up. They were doing a great job of collapsing in the paint in the first half, taking away the dribble penetration, taking away Kaylee (Reinbeau),” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “So we ran a little different in the second and third quarter. That seemed to open things up. Once we got the lead, we could spread them out a little bit and got some easier shots.

“They’re a great defensive team, they really play well defensively. We had to figure something to do to speed up the game.”

And at the start of the third quarter, the Maroon Knights did just that. Reinbeau hit a 3-pointer 39 seconds into the frame and the pressure was on. Reinbeau tallied another basket with 6:01 left in the third, followed by a Riley Bennington layup just nine seconds later. Hannah White got in on the action as she hit her third 3-pointer to make it 31-18. With 4:45 left in the third quarter, another Reinbeau basket capped the run and the score read 35-18 in favor of Wheeling Central.

“In the first half we played good defense, number 14 (Morgan Borich) was killing us,” Kurtz said. “We put Taylor (Duplaga) on her in the second half. I don’t think she scored in the third quarter. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the effort.”

Four Maroon Knights scored in double figures as Reinbeau led the way as she compiled 17 points while Duplaga netted 13 points. Bennington was also solid as she contributed with 11 points. White, who has been starting for the injured Eden Gainer, netted 16 points including hitting three long range shots. The sophomore hit a clutch 3-pointer to break an 18-18 tie with about four seconds to go in the second quarter.

“She’s been playing great since Eden’s been out,” Kurtz said about White. “She hit a couple of big 3-pointers, especially the one at the half to give us the lead. She was in foul trouble, so we just ran her in there and she made the shot. You can’t ask for much more than that.”

The Cadets, however showed some life as they cut the deficit to 11 as they reeled off eight of the next 10 points to put the score at 37-26 with 1:32 to go in the third. In the fourth quarter, Fort Frye was able to get within 10 on two occasions, but that was as close as it would get. After a Borich bucket to put the score at 49-39, Wheeling Central scored six consecutive points to put the game out of reach with 2:33 to play.

“I think if we would have been a little bit more prepared for that (the press in the third), it could have been a little bit different,” Fort Frye coach Dan Liedtke said. “We kind of got knocked back on our heels there a little bit. They took advantage of it. You’re playing against a really good team, that ‘s the thing but when you’re playing a caliber of Wheeling Central, you can mistakes, but you can’t make very many mistakes. I really felt our girls, all in all, did a nice job as far as playing that caliber. We’re very young.. Very, very young, but we stepped up to the challenge.”

Borich led the way for the Cadets as she compiled a game-high 23 points as she netted five shots from behind the arc. Karlee Ross tallied 10 points for the Cadets.