Girard tops Wilmington girls
Girard (45) Vs. Wilmington (36)
Feb 24, 2014
By Corey J. Corbin
New Castle News

FAIRVIEW — The Wilmington High girls basketball team won the final three quarters.

But it was the first quarter that doomed the Lady Greyhounds on Saturday.

Girard outscored Wilmington by 11 points in the first quarter en route to a 45-36 District 10, Class AA quarterfinal-round win at Fairview High School.

Wilmington (15-8) regrouped, outscoring the Lady YellowJackets, 36-31, over the final three quarters. But it wasn’t enough.

“We came ready to play,” Wilmington coach Brandy Sanford said. “We just weren’t ready to play in the first quarter. We thought we were ready. We had playoff jitters and that’s what killed us. You can’t base a game on what other people do. You have to base it on what you do. Girard is a good basketball team and we’re a good basketball team. Sometimes, someone’s going to score and the other team isn’t.”

Maria Welch drained a 3-pointer and Mackenzie Bonnett and Samantha Dunn each chipped in with a bucket as the Lady YellowJackets (18-5) took a 7-0 lead just 2:31 into the game.

“We weren’t getting back defensively,” Sanford said. “We were kind of shell-shocked. We came out of the gates slower than we should have.”

Girard stretched its lead to 14-0 when Wilmington’s Hannah Drake stepped into a passing lane, converted the ensuing layup and was fouled with 13.4 seconds left in the first quarter. Drake drained the free throw, closing the opening quarter with Girard up, 14-3.

“Wilmington is a really good team,” Girard coach Larry Seneta said. “They were off in the first quarter. We’ve been in the playoffs every year and I think this is the first time they’ve been in a while. I think they were tight. I’ve seen them on tape and they didn’t play like that before, so I definitely think they were tight.”

Drake’s three-point play woke up the Wilmington offense.

The Lady Greyhounds outscored Girard 17-9 over the next 10 minutes to pull to within 23-20 on Alanna Elliott’s freebie moments into the second half.

“It takes one person to jumpstart things,” Sanford said of Drake’s three-point play. “It was a defensive play that started it. That’s what we’ve been harping on all season. Defense is going to get you where you need to be. I asked the girls on the bench ‘What got them those points?’ They thought it was the drive. It was actually the defense.”

Welch stemmed the tide for the Lady YellowJackets with a steal and a breakaway layup before Bonnett pushed the lead to five with a pair of free throws.

“I don’t think our defense gets enough credit, but we’ve been doing that all season,” Seneta said. “We get the stops when we need them. Then, we come down and score to stop their momentum for a while.”

Dakota Naples opened the fourth quarter with her third 3-pointer of the game to cut the deficit to 30-29.

Welch came up big for Girard again with a 3-pointer for a 33-29 lead. Tessa Sikora converted a free throw to cut the lead to 33-30, but Wilmington would get no closer as Girard’s Emma Oas drained eight foul shots and Welch a pair over the final two minutes.

“We came up short in the first quarter, but other than that, I thought the girls played one heck of a game,” Sanford said. “You have to put together four quarters. The first quarter put us behind the eight ball. I’m proud of the girls for coming back and not giving up. They woke Girard up and made them take note that we were here to play. You hope for an extra minute or two and maybe the game turns out differently, but it is what it is.”

Girard’s defense focused on stopping Elliott and Sikora, limiting the two Wilmington seniors to five points each. Sikora also had seven rebounds, while Elliott accounted for four boards and four steals.

“I was concerned about trying to stop their two big girls,” said Seneta, whose team was outrebounded 33-26 and committed 20 turnovers. “I thought we did a good job on that. We’ve spent a lot of time in practice preparing for (Sikora). I’ve seen her get three or four putbacks in a row before she makes one. She’s gotten three or four offensive rebounds in a possession. She’s tall and has long arms. If she can’t grab it, she’ll tip it until she can. She’ll keep doing that until she scores. I think our hard work in practice paid off.”

Drake posted a team-high 12 points and four steals.

“She’s been really driven all season,” Sanford said. “She’s got a lot of things on her plate right now. She’s been really motivational. She’s been working hard. She’s a very quiet girl. She takes it upon herself to jumpstart things. Sometimes, it works for her and sometimes, it doesn’t. I can’t wait to see what she does in her senior year.”

Naples canned four crucial 3-pointers and also finished with 12 points. She added three rebounds.

“I knew that freshman (Naples) was a shooter,” Seneta said. “Man, did she put on a display today.”

Sanford was impressed with her freshman’s awareness on the floor.

“It’s not so much about the 3-point shots,” she said. “It’s about coming in, recognizing what the defense is giving you and taking advantage of it. As a freshman, she sees the court really well. She can be a playmaker for us.”

The Lady Greyhounds bid farewell to seniors Cassidy Marett, Elliott and Sikora.

“It’s going to be hard,” Sanford said. “They were freshmen when I first started coaching here, so they’re the first group that I’ve had all four years. It’s going to be a tough loss for me. I like each and every one of those kids. Their parents have done a wonderful job raising teenage girls. They’re fantastic kids on and off the court. It’s going to be a hard blow. The team is definitely going to miss them next year as well.”

Welch led Girard with 15 points, while Oas added 10.
Nightly Roundup
Feb 24, 2014 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT SCORE
Girard 14 9 7 15 0 45
Wilmington 3 11 12 10 0 36
Box Scores
WILMINGTON (36)
Tessa Sikora 0 5-8 5
Alanna Elliott 2 1-2 5
Cassidy Marett 1 0-0 2
Hannah Drake 4 4-10 12
Jamie Thompson 0 0-0 0
Dakota Naples 4 0-1 12
Ally Hahn 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 11 10-21 36.

GIRARD (45)
Maria Welch 5 2-2 15
Lauren Davenport 0 0-0 0
Mackenzie Bonnett 1 2-2 4
Samantha Dunn 3 2-2 8
Emma Oas 0 10-10 10
Jordan Mascaro 2 0-0 5
Carly Byham 1 0-0 3
Rylie Bolt 0 0-0 0.
Totals: 12 16-16 46.
WILMINGTON     3  11  12  10 – 36
GIRARD               14    9    7  15 – 45
3-pointers: Wilmington 4 (Naples 4), Girard 5 (Welch 3, Mascaro 1, Byham 1).
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