PARKERSBURG — Starting strong and finishing strong.
The message both Parkesburg South and Parkersburg High head coaches presented to their girls during practice this week was a simple one as they get ready for meeting number two at 7:30 p.m. tonight inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
For Ed Davis’ Patriots, it was the former.
His team fell behind by 21 points early and had to claw their way back in the game during a 55-52 loss to PHS back on Dec. 30.
“We usually try to stress that most games, but every once in a while it doesn’t go according to plan,” said Davis.
Parkersburg South’s Devin Hefner guards Wheeling Park’s Emily Pavlic, whilte South’s Makenna Winans looks on during South’s 75-67 loss to Park back on Dec. 9. Both Winans and Hefner are going to be key factors in tonight’s game against the Big Reds. File photo
“They (the Big Reds) can go on those runs and get 2 or 3 turnovers and hit 2 or 3 3’s and then you are down by 12 so yeah that is important.”
Some of the struggles could be attributed to the fact South was missing two key players.
Makenna Winans and Allyssa Wilson both missed the first contest due to injuries, however both are back.
No doubt each lady is a welcome sight.
The Patriots largely had no answer for the Big Reds’ Madi Mace, who scored 23 points with 9 boards earlier this season. Winans provides a lengthy defender to put on Mace and could make it harder for the Big Red to get easy buckets under the basket.
Winans also is one of the Patriots biggest offensive contributors. She is pouring in 15.5 points per game to go along with collecting 6.8 boards.
She joins teammates Allie Taylor and Devin Hefner in a scoring trio to rival the Big Reds’ Madi Mace, Bre Wilson and Shay-Lee Kirby.
The trio combines to score almost 41 of the Patriots’ 60 markers per contest.
Meanwhile, Wilson provides a solid defender off the bench and a capable scorer for her head coach. Expect to see her guard Wilson and Kirby at different times to try and stop their drives into the lane.
“We have to play them a possession at a time and hopefully handle their pressure,” said Davis. “And continue to play defense like we have been playing it.”
For Scott Cozzens’ Big Reds, it was the latter.
Poor shot selection and difficulty with South’s defensive intensity led to a tough second half for his team.
Cozzens has pressed the issue hard with his girls in practice on those moments.
“We have been working on those end-game situations,” said Cozzens. “Talking about finishing games and attacking. We get up and we are worried about whether the clock is running and we stop doing what we are doing. We just need to be us and play. If they beat us they beat us it isn’t the end of the world.
“We are a different team then when people saw us just a few weeks ago. And have been getting really good play off the bench of late. If someone gets in foul trouble, someone else picks it up and right now we are in a really good spot this time of year.”
Players like Tavien Clark and Maggie Richards have stepped up their game coming off the pine for Cozzens.
Each team comes in red hot.
Both groups are on a six-game winning streak and anxious to keep the flow to their momentum.
Starting lineups largely remain the same from the first meeting. Winans at the 5 spot for the Patriots being the exception.
If PHS can grab a win on the Patriots home floor, they are well suited to host a sectional final contest.
But if South wins, things get interesting if both teams take care of business against Ripley.
The Vikings are the other team in the section.