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Oak Glen Defeats Central

Photo by Cody Nespor Wheeling Central’s Valerie Downing, right, makes a pass, while guarded by Oak Glen’s Sarah Brown.

WHEELING — In their first game in two and a half weeks, the Wheeling Central girls basketball team fell at home to visiting Oak Glen 70-65 Monday night.

The Maroon Knights (2-7) had been on break since Dec. 23 when they also played the Golden Bears (6-3), dropping that game in New Cumberland.

Central leaned on post players Keiera Wilkinson and Abbey Jones to counter Oak Glen’s up-tempo playstyle, to much success. Wilkinson scored a game-high 26 points, followed by 19 from Jones but it was not enough as the Golden Bears hung on late to preserve the victory.

“I thought our girls played hard, I thought their girls played really hard,” said OG coach Scott Wiley. “They haven’t played since they played us last time so we were hoping they’d be a little rusty but they weren’t rusty and hung with us the whole time.”

“Oak Glen’s a good team,” Central coach Roberta Olejasz added. “I thought we’ve improved a lot over the break and handled their press a lot better than we did (last time). I thought our girls did a good job with our gameplan in the first half, in the second half I thought they did a decent job with the gameplan. I don’t think we slowed (the game) down as much as we would have liked.”

Oak Glen’s full-court press caused problems for the Maroon Knights at times. Mid-way through the first quarter, the Golden Bears caused Central turnovers on four straight possessions to power a 12-3 run that gave them a 15-8 lead.

“We run in practice and the girls like playing that way,” Wiley said. “I’ve got some track stars and they like to run. As long as we can put the ball in the hole we’re okay, but that’s a tough task sometimes.”

Central responded with a 12-2 run to start the second quarter that provided them a 26-23 advantage. A late burst game OG a slim 33-30 lead at the half.

“In the halfcourt I thought we could do pretty much what we wanted to,” Olejasz said. “I think our girls got a little tired and we started missing some layups. If some of those layups had fallen it’s a different game.”

The teams combined for 40 points in a contentious third quarter. Wilkinson scored 10 of her 26 points in the frame on five makes.

“She can do that, that is her game,” Olejasz said. “That was our gameplan, we were going to run the ball into the post and when those guys get the ball in there, they have the ability to score the ball like that.”

The game stayed competitive in the fourth quarter, but Oak Glen made 9 of their 12 free throws in the final frame to ice the game. Oak Glen’s entire roster played a part in the win as six of their eight players scored on the night and all eight played significant minutes.

“We’re playing eight girls and I trust all of them that they could go in there at any time and play well,” Wiley said. “It’s just nice to get the ‘W’, it’s tough to play down here.”

Alexus Greenlief led the Golden Bears with 20 points. She scored 12 in the first half on six field goals but had to change gears in the second, sinking all six of her free throw attempts.

“She’s one of our leaders,” Wiley said. “She works on her game in the offseason and it shows. She’s got some nice moves, she’s aggressive and she’s not the biggest kid but she’s got a pretty big heart.”

Carson Barr finished second for Oak Glen with 17 points, Kamela Ward netted 14 and Elizabeth Kell finished with 10. Sarah Brown hit on the team’s lone 3-pointer and finished with five points.

Behind Wilkinson and Jones, Valerie Downing scored 11 for Central with three made 3-pointers.

Oak Glen returns home to host Steubenville on Thursday while Central will travel to play Trinity Christian.

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