Paden City Wildcats Upset Valley Lumberjills
Paden City Girls’ Basketball Head Coach Kelly Sine said last week that he wanted to see his team take a step forward, and that’s exactly what happened Jan. 22 when it defeated county rival Valley, 38-35, at Pine Grove.
The Lady Wildcats are in their second season with Sine at the helm and are beginning to apply some of the many lessons he has been teaching them. “I believe they are finally starting to practice and play with the intensity we want here at Paden City,” said Sine.
Paden City got off to a slow start, something that has plagued them most of the season. Yet, the Lady ‘Cats ended first period on top 7-4, something they haven’t been for the biggest part of the season.
However, the number three OVAC-ranked Lumberjills were without starting point guard Brittany Guthrie, and had to rely a lot on the bench to carry them through.
The Wildcats used a 2-1-2 defense, which kept the ‘Jills away from their famous pick and roll. Plus, it didn’t hurt that 5’11” Alli Bertozzi was in the middle of the zone for them. “Alli played a very solid game for us defensively,” said Assistant Coach Bruce Crawford. “She pulled down a game-high 22 rebounds and did a very good job of knowing when to come up and play high, and when to help out in the lower box too.”
Also coming up big defensively in the paint was Amanda Tallman and Shauna Durant, who played right by Bertozzi to box out the opponents to make it much easier to pull down a rebound.
Tallman snatched four rebounds, a block, and a steal, while Durant, at 5’6″, pulled down seven boards and added a steal. She played the point on offense and had one of her better games dishing out a half dozen assists while turning the ball over only four times in the game.
In the second period, both the ‘Jills and the ‘Cats were deadlocked in points with 10. But, for only the second time all season, Paden City had the higher number at 17-14 going into the locker room – thanks to a pair of free throws from Erica Sapp.
“I thought we played well in the first half, except for our outside shooting and free throws,” said Sine. “We did a good job of rebounding and we were patient on offense and didn’t throw it away. Every girl played a big part in our success in the opening half, and it spilled over to the second half, too.”
Valley came out after the break and shut down the ‘Cats with a solid 2-3 zone, while knocking in 11 points and holding Paden City to six. “Valley has a nice team and some outstanding individuals who create some match-up problems. I thought Lauren Ueltschy, Lesta Kocher, Aly Weber, and Tiffany Hayes did an exceptional job tonight for the ‘Jills,” Sine added.
The Lumberjills entered the fourth period clinging to a two-point lead, 25-23, but extended it to six points early on and the ‘Cats had to call a time out to talk things over and to cool down the hosts a little. When play resumed, Paden City chipped at the ‘Jills’ lead, and refocused on what to do to stop Valley: give it to Bertozzi and let her go to work.
They did and she scored from inside, while Courtney Conaway, Sasha Newson, Amy Toman and Dominique Craft hit some baskets from outside to retake the lead. Paden City stretched its lead to six, but Valley nipped at the advantage until they got to within one point.
The Lady Wildcats made some foul shots down the stretch, but missed more than they made to open the door for Valley. A missed charity toss and a turnover almost cost the Wildcats, but a turnover by Valley at critical time outs, plus good use of the clock by Paden City, saved the day to give Paden City its biggest win of the season.
The Paden City defense frustrated Valley for most of the game and the work of Bertozzi, Durant, Tallman, Toman, and Conaway on the glass.
“One thing I can say about this team,” Sine continued, “is they have learned from their losses this year and have responded when things were going bad. Hopefully, we can build on this victory.”
Ueltschy paced Valley with nine points, while the trio of Kocher, Weber, and Hayes each netted seven and Hannah Shaw sent up five markers. Kocher pulled down eight boards, while the trio of Ueltschy, Weber, and Shaw hauled in 13.
Bertozzi’s double-double of 22 boards and her career-high 24 points led the Lady Wildcats, while Conaway and Toman combined for four. Craft and Sapp each netted four points for the rest of Paden City’s scoring.