Girls basketball: St. Albans routs rival Nitro
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There was a moment in St. Albans' 54-32 girls basketball victory Tuesday night over Class AAA No. 7 Nitro that the Wildcats had one last chance to come back and make a game of things.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, SA sophomore point guard Torii Wilson slammed the door.
With 2:57 left in the third quarter and St. Albans leading 31-20, Wilson drove to the bucket parallel with the right side of the lane, cutting toward the basket as she approached. She went airborne, lofted a floating layup while drawing a foul, and a St. Albans student in the stands yelled, "And one!"
The ball hung on the rim for a fraction of the second before dropping through, Wilson smoothly sank her free throw and the rout was on.
Wilson finished with 10 points and led the Red Dragons (10-2) with three assists and four steals. Perhaps more importantly, she was part of a 1-2 defensive combination along with junior shooting guard Lexie Cooper that kept Nitro junior guard Savannah Shamblin from ever getting into an offensive rhythm.
"People think we win ugly, but we've been playing really, really good defense," St. Albans coach Scott James said. "If you look at what we're averaging giving up per game, I think last time I checked it was like 32 points a game.
"Defense won this ballgame," James said.
Shamblin entered the game averaging more than 22 points per game, but finished just 5-of-20 from the field and with 11 points.
"If we ran 3-2, 2-3, man, whatever, we didn't slough back in to help," James said. "(Cooper and Wilson) were supposed to not leave her and to deny her penetration as much as possible, and I thought we did a good job of that."
Wilson said SA had spent plenty of time preparing to defend Shamblin.
"They had a post that would screen a lot, so we were trying to communicate more (to let each other know) where she's at," Wilson said. "She's a great player. All of us were just kind of looking where she was at and seeing what we needed to do to be on her."
Early on it appeared that Nitro center Tiffany Reavis could emerge as the game's dominant force.
The junior had 10 of her game-high 20 rebounds in the first quarter. But as the game's pace quickened in subsequent quarters Reavis became less of force.
Much of that could be credited to the play of a pair of St. Albans freshman reserves, Haleigh Legg and Alli Johnson, who were the second and third girls off the bench for the Dragons. They entered as frontcourt starters Katilyn Propst and Cameron Davis drew their second fouls of the game late in the first quarter, and their play helped SA extend its lead to 24-15 by halftime.
Legg was 6-of-9 from the floor, grabbed six rebounds and led all scorers with 15 points.
"We just learned that we had to box out and keep her out of there," Legg said of cutting into Reavis' effectiveness.
"It was the only way we were going to get the ball back," she said.
The loss was Nitro's second in a row after reeling off 10 consecutive wins to open the season. Coach Will Samuel said St. Albans' ability to frustrate Shamblin and manipulate the tempo of the game played against the Wildcats.
"For two years now, Scott James has done a great job of bottling her up," Samuel said. "I felt like we figured out a way to get some shots with shooters that we want to shoot the ball, but our girls didn't go out and execute, at all.
"You've got to trust in your teammates and listen to what I'm saying and they just kind of tuned me out tonight, so we're at a low point in our season," he said.
On the other end of the spectrum, Wilson said the key win over their archrival was just what was needed before her team hits a stretch when it still must play games against Class AAA No. 3 Huntington, No. 5 Spring Valley and others.
"I think our hard work is going to pay off. I think we're going to get into the heat of our schedule here soon and we're definitely ready," Wilson said.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.