Weir makes Madonna’s time miserable in 29-point victory

PASSING THROUGH — Weir High’s Keshawn Faulks passes to teammate Jake McCoy through Madonna’s Dominic Mazure on Tuesday. Also shown are Madonna’s Tony Chillitti (23) and Gavin Dietrich (4). (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON — It was all about the tough Weir High defensive pressure Tuesday night as the Red Riders forced 23 turnovers and got up and down the floor in transition for an easy 71-42 win over Madonna on the Ron “Fritz” Williams Court inside the Carl R. Hamill Fieldhouse.

Twelve Weir players dressed, and 11 of them got into the scoring column. Mike Granato’s club recorded an unusual statistic that often gets overlooked, with nine players having at least one assist. Senior Cameron Pierce came off the bench to dish out four of those assists and two steals. Sophomore Sebastian Spencer led with three steals, and junior Jake McCoy had five blocked shots.

“It was a great team effort tonight,” said Granato, whose club now is 2-3.

Red Rider senior Keyshawn Faulks, who scored 18 points, echoed that.

“My teammates helped me out with everything,” said Faulks, who drove the lane repeatedly and led all rebounders in the game with eight. “We had a game plan where we were going to come out and pressure them. We turned our defense into offense. We just did what we were supposed to do as a team.”

Reed Reitter, who had an outstanding football season, is beginning to get his basketball legs and is settling in as an integral part of the team after transferring from Union High in Burgettstown, where he was an all-section basketball player as a sophomore last year.

“We pressured the ball real well,” said Reitter, who scored a game-high 23 points. “Coach said that’s what we needed to do to get the win. I had the adrenaline going because it was the rivalry with Madonna and our second home game. I came to play tonight.”

It was the second straight game that the Blue Dons lost while turning the ball over 23 times.

“We knew going in we’d get pressured,” Madonna coach Chris Blair said. “They did a great job of pressuring us tonight. They put us in uncomfortable situations, and we just have to learn from this and get better.

“The lanes were there; we just weren’t hitting them, not catching the ball square, letting them beat our internal clock. The pressure got to us. We worked on pressure for about an hour (Monday) because we knew we’d see it. It is just something we have to keep working on, and I hope we are a lot better at handling the ball at the end of the year than we are at the beginning of the year.”

The Blue Dons got off to a slow start and didn’t get their first goal until the game was almost three minutes old when senior Angelo Gurrera found the range. By that time, Weir already had 10 points. The first period ended with the Red Riders ahead 18-12. They expanded the lead to 36-23 at the half.

Madonna finished the final three minutes of the third period in a scoring drought as the Red Riders reeled off a 10-0 run to start the fourth period ahead 56-31. The Blue Don drought continued through the first two minutes of the final stanza, with sophomore Lucky Pulice finally halting the run at 14-0 with a free throw with 6:10 left in the game.

By that time, the outcome of the game was determined as Weir was in command 60-32.

“The kids deserve a lot of credit because we came back Saturday from the loss to Indian Creek down at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling where we pressed like that and forced 21 turnovers there but couldn’t score on them,” Granato said. “Tonight, we scored and the kids fed off of that.

“We really started to hit the open man and that is contagious. We got the ball into the low post area and rebounded well. Our athleticism showed tonight.”

Pulice is emerging as the scoring leader for the Blue Dons. He led Madonna for the second straight game coming off the bench. He finished with 19 points, including three rainbows from behind the arc. Senior Chayce Lemley finished with 7 points.

Game notes:

¯ The Weir reserve team made it a clean sweep with a 57-32 win over their Blue Don counterparts. Tanner Mikula scored 16 points while teammates Elijah Gillette and Skyler Jackson added 10 apiece. Christian Ridgeway scored seven to lead the Blue Don jayvees.

¯ For the record, some athletes get a nickname that sticks and their given first names are almost lost. That was the case with Babe Ruth and Whitey Ford. Pulice, the Madonna freshman, has the nickname of Lucky. The oficial Madonna roster on the WVSSAC website lists him with his given first name of Luchenzo.

Weir High 71, Madonna 42

Madonna 12-11-8-11 — 42

Weir High 18-18-20-15 — 71

MADONNA (1-2): Lemley 3 1-5 7; Dietrich 0 0-1 0; Gurrera 1 0-0 2; Mitchell 1 0-0 2; Boniti 1 1-2 4; Sellitti 0 4-8 4; Pulice 6 4-7 19; Mazur 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 14 10-23 42. 3-POINT GOALS: 4 (Pulice 3, Boniti); REBOUNDS: 31 (Sellitti 7); TURNOVERS: 23.

WEIR HIGH (2-3): Spencer 1 0-0 2; Pierce 1 0-0 3; Hudacheck 1 0-0 2; Mikula 1 0-0 2; Riggs 1 0-0 2; Reitter 11 1-3 23; Buffington 2 0-0 5; Faulks 8 1-3 18; Hoover 1 0-0 2; McCoy 3 0-0 6; Krutilla 2 2-4 6. TOTALS: 32, 4-10: 71. 3-POINT GOALS: 3 (Pierce, Buffington, Faulkes); REBOUNDS: 25 (Faulkes 8); TURNOVERS: 14.