Strong Second Half Propels Bellaire Over Central

Big Reds Outscore Knights 44-14 in Final Two Quarters

Photo by Josh Strope Wheeling Central’s Ally Davidson (13) tips the ball away from Bellaire’s Sydney Purtiman during Saturday’s game on Coach “Skip” Prosser Court.

WHEELING — When you have a lineup that boasts four double-digit scorers, that makes it pretty hard to stop.

Add in a tenacious defense that turns turnovers into points, and you have a team that is going to take a perfect game to stop.

In this case, it is Bellaire. And Wheeling Central found out firsthand just what how quickly the Big Reds can change a game.

The Big Reds opened the third quarter scoring the first 13 points, turning a halftime deficit into a seven-point lead. It only got better from there for Bellaire, which outscored the Maroon Knights 44-14 in the second half on its way to a decisive 68-44 victory Saturday on Coach “Skip” Prosser Court at the Wheeling Central gymnasium.

“It wasn’t anything I said,” Bellaire coach John Farrier said with a laugh about the halftime talk. “My assistant coach got after them a little bit. We told them to play the way they know how to play. Play like our Lady Reds have been playing the last few years. Do what we do.

“They got after it, went on that run and just kept with it, playing at the style they normally play at.”

Bellaire (12-1) looked like it was going to make it a blowout from the start, racing out to a 10-2 lead to start the game.

Wheeling Central had other ideas.

Led by junior standout Kaylee Reinbeau’s 15 first-half points, the Maroon Knights (6-7) went on a 16-4 run to stun Bellaire.

Early in the first quarter, Big Reds junior letterwinner Kat Davis was injured and had to be helped off the court. She returned, but not before the Maroon Knights had taken the lead and gained momentum with a six-point edge heading into the locker room.

Once the second half started, it was all Big Reds.

Wheeling Central turned the ball over eight times in the third quarter and Eden Gainer picked up two early fouls to send her to the bench.

While she didn’t spend much time sitting down, it did force her to play a little less aggressive in the second half.

Add in Bellaire’s pressure and the Maroon Knights barely were able to get the ball past midcourt without a Bellaire player getting a hand on the ball and racing the other way with it.

When it wasn’t a steal and easy layup, the ball was in Natalie Stoner’s hands. Her contribution — three straight 3-pointers that ballooned the lead to 13.

Bellaire outscored Wheeling Central 27-8 in the third quarter and 17-6 in the fourth.

Once Bellaire was in a double-figure lead, Wheeling Central was never able to get it closer than 11.

“Kat going down and turning the ball over, I think we lost some of our energy in the second quarter,” Farrier said. “At halftime, we knew we had to will ourselves to win.

“Our defense works in spurts and even though it leads to baskets the other way sometimes, when it does work it can deflate another team and take the wind our of their sails.

“When (Natalie) starts making them, she hits a bunch in a row. She has a really nice step back. It picks up our energy level. We have four girls who average in double figures, so each night is a different person. We also had our fifth person, Brittany Falcone, who made a couple big baskets and make some shots, too.”

The Big Reds were paced by Maci Crozier with 20 points, followed by Stoner with 18 (four 3-pointers) and Davis with 12.

Reinbeau led Wheeling Central with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was a frustrating game,” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “First half, we played really well defensively. We held a good team like that to 24 points at halftime.

“Then we came out third quarter and did everything opposite. I felt like George Costanza. I don’t know. We are still learning how to trust each other and I don’t know if we have that yet.

“I thought the real key was that we stopped executing against their press. In the first half, we had a really good game plan and their press didn’t hurt us. For some reason, in the second half, we didn’t run what we were supposed to run and started turning it over, got frustrated, missed some shots and it just snowballed from there.”

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