Gainer Nets 1,000th Point as Central Rolls
Maroon Knights down Dragons in sectional tournament
WHEELING — Wheeling Central guard Eden Gainer positioned herself in the corner in front of her team’s bench, took aim and let it fly.
The reaction from the crowd told the rest of the story.
The junior drained the 3-pointer — giving her 1,000 career points — as the Central faithful erupted.
The Maroon Knights celebrated, not only her accomplishment, but a 66-48 victory over Cameron on Tuesday in the Class A Region One, Section One Tournament on Coach “Skip” Prosser Court.
Central will advance to play Madonna on Friday for the Class A Region One, Section One title.
As for Gainer, her shining moment came as a bit of a surprise.
“I had no idea I was that close,” she said. “I didn’t expect it. I felt a little pressure. All of my teammates were saying to give me the ball but it’s just really exciting.”
Gainer finished with 22 points and joins teammate Kaylee Reinbeau — who led the Knights with 23 points on Tuesday — in the 1,000 point club.
“It’s so much fun playing with her,” Gainer said.
“We’ve been teammates for a long time and we have such good chemistry on the court.”
Both Gainer and Reinbeau are only juniors, making both of their milestones even more impressive.
“For (Gainer) and Kaylee to both get 1,000 points in just their junior seasons, that just says a lot about how hard they work,” Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “They are both excellent ball players.
“I think it’s special for Eden, considering all she has been through in the last two seasons and it just worked out that we ended up playing at home.”
Gainer missed two games this season and a portion of last year’s campaign with shoulder injuries but has made her way back on the court to help lead the Knights, who have been clicking on all cylinders after a 6-7 start.
“Eden has been averaging 30 points a game for her last five games,” Kurtz said. “Now, all of a sudden we have won seven of our last nine.
“Our defense is getting better and I thought they did a nice job in the first half (Tuesday) holding them to just 19 points. As long as we keep getting better defensively, who knows where we can go.”
Wheeling Central (13-8) led from start to finish, opening up the game on an 11-1 run.
The Dragons (13-9) fought back, though, cutting the deficit to 14-11 early in the second quarter but that’s as close as it got.
“When you have the inside out combination (Reinbeau and Gainer) — a big that can handle the ball and go the length of the floor and a lights out shooter –that’s always a tough matchup for you,” Cameron coach Roger Cain said. “I thought our girls played them well. We battled and stayed with them.
“They make you pay when you don’t do the little things but I felt our girls played their butts off and we made them work for what they earned.”
A 12-0 spurt late in the first half helped Central secure a 34-19 lead at the break, with Reinbeau leading the way with 15 and Gainer with nine.
Gainer bucketed 13 points over the final two frames and Marissa Horan chipped in with nine.
Madge Lucey paced the Dragons with 16 points, Lili Neely supplied 10 and Reagan Gray turned in nine.
“They did an excellent job of executing their game plan,” Kurtz said of the Dragons. “They tried to spread us out and kick it out to their shooters, who made shots.
“They played hard, hustled and scrapped and they challenged Eden, Kaylee and the whole team every step of the way. We just made a few more shots (Tuesday).”
Cameron’s lone senior, Jordyn Hughes, finished with four points but its her leadership on and off the court that Cain will miss the most.
“This is a special team,” Cain said. “We only have one senior but Jordyn has been our rock. She’ll be difficult to replace. She is our point guard and a leader on and off the floor.
“But we have a lot of pieces that we can build off of. I told them to keep their heads up. The sky is the limit for them.”