Wheeling Park Rattles Indian Creek in Girls Basketball
Park back to defend its Class 5A crown
WINTERSVILLE — The Indian Creek girls’ basketball team has relied on its defense all season, but it was Wheeling Park’s defense that made the difference Monday night.
The Redskins battled, but the veteran and talented Patriots were too much to overcome as No. 4 seed and state-ranked Wheeling Park defeated No. 1 seed Indian Creek, 56-34, in the Class 5A semifinals of the 11th annual Wheeling Hospital OVAC Girls’ Basketball Tournament on the road.
“Wheeling Park is the defending 5A champion in the OVAC,” Indian Creek (16-4) coach Jackie Rossi said. “To go from being next to last in the OVAC to where we are this year is a huge accomplishment. The kids’ effort was great. They never gave up. We are down two varsity players.
“I don’t believe in moral victories, but Wheeling Park is one of the elite programs in the OVAC. We are going against an elite school, and we are just little Indian Creek. We were the OVAC dormat last year.”
Wheeling Park’s defensive pressure resulted in plenty of turnovers, which resulted in some easy baskets.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Wheeling Park (14-5) coach Ryan Young said. “We have all year. We have a lot of girls we can put in, so we can keep our legs fresh. We are able to keep the pressure up.”
With the win, Wheeling Park will play No. 3 seed Parkersburg South in the conference final at 4:45 p.m. Saturday at Ohio University Eastern. Parkersburg South defeated No. 2 seed Brooke, 53-42, in Monday’s other semifinal.
“We are very familiar with South, and they are very familiar with us,” Young said. “We did not play well against them the last time we played them. It is nice to get another shot at them. It is a rematch from last year. They are well coached.They have good senior leaders. Both teams are going to be primed and ready to go.”
Last year, Wheeling Park defeated Parkersburg South, 68-54, in the final.
Three players scored in double digits to lead the way for Wheeling Park. Laurel Robbb recorded a game-high 16 points, Isabella Abernathy tallied 14 and Kylie McKennen collected 10.
“We scrimmaged Indian Creek, so we knew about them,” Young said. “Their coach is doing a great job. They have gotten a lot better since that scrimmage. They took care of the ball well. They just struggled to score in the halfcourt. We did a good of rebounding and limiting them to just one shot.”
Ashley Yaich and Mackenzie Orban netted six points apiece for Indian Creek, while Taylor Jones and Makenzie Taylor each ended up with five.
“We did scrimmage them, and they ran the table on us for two-straight hours,” Rossi said. “Their coach told me after the game — and it was a huge complement — he said we have improved a lot from that scrimmage. That’s what we want to do. We want to improve. Our goal coming into this season was to improve every day. The girls have nothing to be ashamed of. Now, we are fighting for third place in 5A in the OVAC.”
The Redskins scored the first points of the game, but it was the only time they led. The Patriots’ biggest lead was 23.
Wheeling Park led 13-6 at the end of the first quarter and extended its advantage to 32-13 at halftime. Indian Creek, as good teams do, made a run in the third quarter, but the deficit was too much to overcome. Wheeling Park led 40-23 entering the fourth.
“We treated this game like we did the Bellaire the game,” Rossi said. “Wheeling Park is just more experienced and have had more success as a program. We just wanted to come in and give it our best shot. We did the best we could. We stuck to our game plan.
“Give Wheeling Park credit. They are better. There is nothing wrong with admitting that. Our goal is to improve, and if we keep on improving we can compete at that level. Honestly, we are a 4A school competing in 5A if you look at the enrollment, and we did not back down. We just have to work even harder to compete at that level.”
Indian Creek will play Brooke in the consolation final Thursday night at home. It will be the third meeting of the season between the two schools. The Redskins have won the first two.
“We both know each other well,” Rossi said. “It should be a really good game.”