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Wheeling Central Rally vs. Weir Comes up Short in Girls Basketball

Photo by Joe Catullo Wheeling Central’s Abbey Jones looks for a clean shot while Weir’s Sophia Aperfine defends during Wednesday’s season opener.

WEIRTON — March Madness has a new meaning this year, and that began with the long-awaited season opener for West Virginia high school basketball on Wednesday.

The Weir girls almost gave head coach Rick Stead a heart attack already after nearly blowing an 18-point halftime lead over Wheeling Central. They were able to do just enough down the stretch, and Isabella Aperfine took control of the offense to secure a 52-47 victory.

That energy showed right from the beginning, as the Red Riders seemingly could do no wrong in the paint on both sides of the court. Also, everyone who stepped on the court contributed, leading to a 32-14 advantage at the break.

“It feels good to be back. The girls looked happy to be back,” Stead said. “It was obvious by the way they played in the beginning. They played with some energy, and we made some baskets. Sometimes I wish there was no halftime so we can play straight through.”

The Maroon Knights were on the opposite end, coming out of the gates with first-game jitters and never found a rhythm. Then, they utilized the entire third frame as a 16-3 to cut the deficit to five (35-30) heading into the fourth.

“We battled really hard until the end. We talked about that at halftime, and then they decided they wanted to play,” Central coach Roberta Olejasz said. “They wanted to come out with a little more energy than we did in the first half. They finally played on defense with some pride.

“We started moving the ball much better offensively. Marisa (Horan) started running the point, and we started making a few more passes. In the first half, we were taking whatever shot we got. We started running our offense in the second half.”

The Knights, though, could not contain Aperfine any more in the fourth. Following a four-point first half and scoring none in the third, the senior dropped 10 in the final stanza, resulting in half of the Red Riders’ second-half points.

Her heroics helped build the Weir advantage to 43-35 with 3:54 remaining.

Central then sprinted on a 10-2 run to cut it within three at the 1:20 mark.

Following a pair of missed free throws by the Red Riders, Reagan Hoover grabbed an offensive board and nailed the put-back attempt. Later on, she and Taylor Nutter came up with two more crucial offensive rebounds to give the squad more foul shots (8 of 18 overall).

The Knights cut it back to within three with 13.3 seconds left after Horan’s 3-pointer from the top of the key. Sophia Aperfine then was fouled and calmly sank a pair of freebies to ice it.

“The third quarter has historically been bad for us, or at least over the last several years. At least we played well enough in the first half to get a lead that we were able to maintain,” Stead said. “It’s difficult to win basketball games when you only score three points in a quarter.

“It’s Wheeling Central. They’re not used to being down by that much. I expected them to come out and make adjustments. They switched to the 3-2 zone and put some pressure on us.”

Isabella Aperfine finished with 14 points, eight rebounds and a game-high five assists. With Sophia Mikula no longer on the squad, somebody has to fill the void.

“She’s a very solid player. If you talk to her, you would think she’s very mild mannered,” Stead said regarding Isabella Aperfine. “But, she’s very aggressive and gives you a 100 percent effort every time she plays. We tried to give her a break, but we can’t. She’s a catalyst for these girls to play.”

Also for the Red Riders, Nutter (nine points, 12 rebounds) and Leah Maley (eight points, 11 boards) just missed out on double-doubles. Sophia Aperfine collected seven points, five rebounds and dished out three assists. Hoover added five points, five boards and a pair of dimes.

For Central, Horan had a game-high 17 points, four rebounds and two assists. Tristen White finished with 10 points and seven boards. Elle Canestraro had six points, nine rebounds and two dimes.

SWIMMING

Girls

Linsly 96, Oak Glen 33

Boys

Linsly 100, Oak Glen 12

WHEELING — The Linsly boys and girls swimming teams won 21 of the 22 events in a sweep of Oak Glen.

Liv Torner won two events for the Cadets in the 200 IM (2:39.90) and 100 butterfly (1:03.98). Henrietta Lofgren also won two individual events (500 freestyle, 100 backstroke) in times of 6:34.65 and 1:15.57, respectively.

Sarah Coha (50 freestyle, 29.20; 100 breaststroke, 1:18.34) also won multiple events.

Talia Kosonovich was the lone Golden Bear to touch the wall first (100 freestyle, 1:07.35).

On the boys side, Frederico Colloca-Bianchi won the 200 freestyle (1:54.37) and 100 backstroke (58.65) while Aiser Doval claimed first in the 200 IM (2:15.24) and 100 butterfly (1:02.40).

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