Madonna Gets Victory Over Weir

Photo by Joe Catullo Madonna’s Gia Ricadonna drives to the basket while Weir’s Gia Fuscardo defends.

WEIRTON — Size advantage paid off in a big way in the second half, as the Madonna girls basketball team built a double-digit advantage against city rival Weir before holding on for a 51-44 victory Thursday night.

“I’m not taking away anything from (Weir coach) Rick’s (Stead) program or the Weir team, but that was the worst execution we have had all year,” Madonna coach Rodney Boniti said. “We were discombobulated offensively and defensively. We were lucky (Thursday) that we were able to finish when we needed to.

“The sad thing is we had enough inside shots and clean looks that we should have been able to spread the lead out. When you miss 30 layups or putbacks, you are not going to beat a good team like Weir again.”

The Red Riders trailed by as many 13 points before pulling within five late in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as Weir was able to get in the game.

“We couldn’t get past that,” Stead said. “Our Achilles’ heel has been the third quarter for as long as I can remember. If we are able to win the third quarter, we are going to be OK. (Thursday), we fell behind in the third quarter.

“Rodney has a nice team. He has some nice players. They have got some nice size. They have more size than we do. We are forced to play man-to-man. We could not handle their size if we played zone.”

The Blue Dons outscored the Red Riders, 18-11, in the third, as Madonna built a 12-point advantage before taking a 37-27 lead into the fourth.

Madonna’s dynamic duo inside of Andrea Alimario and Kennedy Martin combined to score 28 points in the game.

Alimario, who scored 11 points in the second half, tallied a game-high 16, while Martin netted 12.

Two players also scored in double digits for the Red Riders. Gia Fuscardo delivered a team-high 12 points, while Sophia Mikula collected 11.

A basket by Alimario gave Madonna a 46-33 in the fourth, but Weir stormed back. A 3-pointer by Fuscardo pulled the Red Riders to within 47-42, but the hosts did not get any closer.

“I am proud of the way the girls battled,” Stead said. They did not give up. Sophia and Gia hit some big shots. Julia (Gianni) did a nice job on defense getting tips and causing turnovers. Bella Aperfine and Taylor Nutter also stepped up. Taylor Nutter has improved the most from last year.

“I thought we would be further ahead at this point of the season, but we have had some injuries early on. We have to play the way we are capable of playing if we want to compete with the Fairmonts and North Marion in our section. We are going to have to get up and down the floor. We are going to have to play man, and we are going to have to be able to pressure them.”

The Blue Dons and Red Riders will play again on Jan. 24 at Madonna in the annual city championship game.

“Any time the girls win, it gives them confidence going into the city championship game,” Boniti said. “We know that we have got a lot of work to do from now until the city championship game. Unfortunately with our schedule, we have a ton of powerhouses we have to play before we play the city championship game.”

Last season, Weir won the first game between the two teams, but Madonna responded and won the city championship.

“Any time we play Madonna, Oak Glen or Steubenville, it is a big game,” Stead said. “Those are all three rivalry games. Madonna is in the same city, and Oak Glen is in the same county.

“I am proud of the effort we got from our kids. It is always good whenever it is a good basketball game when we play. The last two years, we have been more competitive with Madonna and with Oak Glen. We have improved.”

Both teams are scheduled to play Saturday afternoon on the road. Madonna is at Linsly, while Weir will play at Brooke.