ARKERSBURG — If a young Class AAA No. 3 PHS girls’ basketball team needed any confirmation they were growing as the season went along, the Big Reds received some positive signs Monday afternoon inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
Scott Cozzens’ team outscored Class AA No. 1 Wyoming East 16-1 in the third quarter and pulled away for a 69-51 win over the previously undefeated Warriors.
The Big Reds third-period run was part of a greater 40-13 stretch, which spanned the second and third quarters.
A tough defense responsible for 19 Warrior turnovers coupled with a 33 of 43 effort from the foul line didn’t hurt either.
“We had some kids step up today the way I wanted and have expected them to play all year,” said Cozzens. “I told them ‘It is good to see you back after you took 8 or 9 games off.”
Bre Wilson was one of those young ladies referred to by Cozzens. The sophomore guard scored 15 of her 18 points during the pivotal second-quarter run that helped the Big Reds take the lead for good.
“A lot of people don’t know but she was out several months with a stress fracture in her back until October,” continued Cozzens. “I talked to her dad and I didn’t know if she was passive or a little bit afraid but I saw glimpses of the old Bre the last week and a half of practice where she was driving to the rim and taking the extra dribble. I was curious to see if it would carry over today and she was in a different class than anyone on the floor.”
Madi Mace also had a big afternoon with a double-double effort of 22 points and 10 rebounds.
Kara Sandy scored 17 points to pace Wyoming East, while Gabby Lupardus chipped in 14 markers.
To say the game was physical would be an understatement.
Five players fouled out during the contest: Emily Saunders and Allie Lusk for Wyoming East along with Shay-Lee Kirby, Aleea Crites and Bre Wilson for the Big Reds.
Fans wouldn’t easily have predicted the final outcome after the first quarter of play.
Wyoming East largely did what they wanted on offense with Lupardus running the show. Saunders, the Warriors’ 6-foot-5 center, scored six of her points during an opening period where the visitors took a 17-11 advantage after one.
Saunders didn’t just cause trouble as an offensive matchup. The lanky post player forced altered shots from the Big Reds. PHS missed nine buckets inside the arc in the first 8 minutes.
However, the Big Reds weren’t intimidated by her height and got her in foul trouble about halfway through the second quarter. This is when the Big Reds started their march to the lead.
Trailing 19-15 and with Saunders out of the game, PHS kicked off a 21-7 run on the strength of two converted Wilson free throws.
Tavien Clark’s triple with 3:50 left in the stanza then gave the Big Reds their first lead of the game since 3-2 at 24-23.
Wyoming East struggled to get anything going after halftime.
They were 4 for 14 from the field, including 0 for 8 in the third quarter. Kara Sandy’s hit on the back end of two charity stripes tosses with 45 seconds left to play was the only Warrior point in the third.
“Some teams don’t play well against certain defenses,” said Cozzens when asked about his team’s second half success. “The 2-2-1 showed some promise in the first half and then it got to the point where they couldn’t play the big kid and they couldn’t chase us.”