WEIRTON - The Weir High girls basketball team rallied from 11 points down in the third quarter to win a thriller, 53-49, in overtime Monday night over Steubenville Catholic Central at the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse.
The Lady Crusaders had things pretty much their own way throughout the first half, running their set offense smoothly and getting easy shots against a soft Weir High zone defense. They led at the intermission 27-16. But in the second half, veteran coach Bill Smith had his Lady Red Riders turn up the defensive intensity to tie the score at 43-43 at the end of regulation.
Junior point guard Alyssa Shingle found nothing but net on a jumper from the foul line following a time out to knot the score with 43 seconds still remaining on the clock. Both teams had a couple of opportunities to win the game before the final buzzer, but couldn't get a bucket.
FOR TWO — Catholic Central’s Rachel Irvin goes up for two of her game-high 25 points in front of Weir’s Raegan?Stead, who scored 24 points, during the Crusaders’ 53-49 overtime loss Monday in Weirton.
-- Fred Younce
"We changed defenses at halftime because I thought we became complacent in the first half just standing around defensively," Smith explained. "We wanted to get our girls into a rhythm and change the pace a little bit and it worked out for us."
The Crusaders were able to break the pressure defense early in the third quarter and held a 31-20 lead with 6:32 left in the period when senior Rachel Irvin hit a layup off a nice pass from Rachael Rigaud.
That's when the Lady Riders began chipping away at the lead.
"We told them at halftime that Weir was going to pressure us, but as long as we took care of the ball we'd be OK," said Crusader coach Tom Winland, whose team turned the ball over 20 times in the game, 11 of them in the fatal fourth quarter and overtime. "We kept telling the kids to take care of the ball. We didn't want them to speed us up, but that's exactly what the pressure did to us. We were throwing the ball at our own player's knees and over their heads. That's what it came down to, we turned the ball over way too much."
Adding to the litany of turnovers was four straight steals by Weir High senior, Raven Young, who seemed to be all over the court in the final minutes. She stole the ball four straight times and Weir High was able to convert the steals into points.
Young got a layup and two free throws off of her steals, while Raegan Stead stuck home a field goal and two freebies during Weir High's 10-0 run in the final 3:51 of regulation time.
"Raven is our best defensive player there's no question about it," Smith explained. "I kept telling her to step up, step up and she did when it counted.
"We've been telling the team all year that anyone can mess around and shoot the ball, but it takes special people to play defense, and once our kids made up their minds that they were going to play defense, we turned our defense into offense at the other end."
The win spoiled a career game by Catholic Central's Irvin. The Crusader senior had a double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. She got Central's final two points during regulation with 3:51 left. That's when Young went on her defensive tear.
Weir High sophomore Stead also scored a career high with 24 points including five in the overtime period. She also grabbed four rebounds and had a couple of steals.
The Red Riders, who had defeated Catholic Central 53-39 on Dec. 17, took control early in the four-minute overtime. When senior co-captain Shelva Burns drove the lane for a deuce on the first OT possession, Weir High had its first lead of the game.
Then, Stead drove the lane for two while the Crusaders continued to struggle getting the ball into the offensive zone, and when they did, they were unable to make shots.
"That's what happens when you speed up like that," said Winland. "You begin rushing your shots and don't get the easier shots."
Shingle made a free throw and Stead followed with another so that by the time Central scored on a Tori Knight three-pointer with 35 seconds left, Weir High was still in control, 49-46.
Shingle got to the line again with 16.9 seconds left to can two free throws to make it 51-46, but the Crusaders weren't ready to call it quits. Irvin made the first of two free throws at the 10.2 mark.
Weir High turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds play giving Irvin a chance to grab a rebound and put the ball back up cutting the Rider lead to 51-49.
Stead calmly walked to the foul line after being fouled with 2.1 seconds left and iced the game swishing two for the final margin.
Shingle finished with 13 points to back up Stead.
Knight had eight points and Regaud, who hauled in 14 rebounds (Central out rebounded the Riders, 41-21), tossed in seven.
The loss dropped the Crusaders to 5-11 on the season and Winland said eight of the losses are by 10 points or under and five of them are by six or less.
The Red Riders' record advanced to 5-7.
Both teams have rivalry games coming up Thursday. Weir High goes to Madonna for the annual city championship game while the Crusaders are at home with Big Red.
Weir High 53, CCHS 49
CCHS 15 12 6 10 6 - 49
Weir 10 6 11 16 10 - 53
CCHS: Knight 3 0-0 8, Irvin 12 1-2 25, Rigaud 3 1-2 7, Mirabella 1 0-0 2, Parkinson 2 0-0 5, Dziewatkowski 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 2-4 49. 3-pointers: Knight (2), Parkinson; Rebounds: 41 (Rigaud, 14, Irvin, 10); Turnovers: 20.
WEIR HIGH: Young 2 2-6 6, Stead 9 5-6 24, Shingle 4 3-4 13, Lemley 1 0-0 2, Burns 2 2-4 6, Dalrymple 1 0-0 2. Totals: 19 12-20 53. 3-pointers: Shingle (2), Stead; Rebounds: 21 (Burns, 6); Turnovers: 8.