Wheeling Central girls go on 26-0 run to dominate Madonna
WHEELING — Wheeling Central girls’ basketball coach Penn Kurtz wasn’t pleased with how his team started during the opener of the Undo’s Tournament.
Saturday, however, was a different story.
The Maroon Knights had the perfect balance of offense and defense, scoring 27 points in the first quarter and limiting Madonna to six. From there, they went on cruise control in a dominating 67-35 victory in the championship game Saturday at Wheeling Jesuit University.
“We played much better,” Kurtz said. “The first quarter we played with a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. Riley Bennington came out and played great. That was nice to see.
“We did a couple things differently to start out to get there level of energy up and it worked for us.”
Bennington, who finished with 12 points, drained two of her three 3-pointers, in the first quarter. Kaylee Reinbeau, who paced the Maroon Knights (10-1) with 14 points, had 10 of those during the first eight minutes.
The Maroon Knights scored the first six points and were in front 12-6 midway through the first.
Wheeling Central scored the next 26 points, a run that was too much for Madonna to overcome. When Gianno Mascio scored a basket at the 3:22 mark of the second quarter, the Blue Dons were in a 38-8 hole.
“Our goal is to try to score 70 and hold the other team under 50,” Kurtz said. “When we can do that, we will win a lot of games.”
The Maroon Knights’ pressure defense forced Madonna into 15 first-half turnovers, including a steal by Hanna White that lead to an easy Taylor Duplaga basket right before the horn ended the first quarter.
“We had our point guard (Rachel Boniti) go down and just a week and a half ago, we had our other guard (Jazzlyn Melnyk) blow her ACL so now I am going into play a defensive-intense team with our two top guards out of the game,” Madonna coach Rodney Boniti said. “It was a like a pack of wolves smelling blood and they kept coming harder and harder and we couldn’t stop the run.”
Wheeling Central stretched the lead to as large as 35 and played most of the second half with the reserves in.
Kasey Canei had a solid game for the Blue Dons (4-5) with 12 points, while Andrea Alimario — who was named to the All-Tournament team — had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
“We told the girls that basketball doesn’t start Nov. 1,” Coach Boniti said. “What we will learn from this game is study the film, get back in the gym and work hard. They are not discouraged.
“Wheeling Central is a perennial powerhouse and they are going to be a tough out. They are the team to beat in the region, there is no doubt about it. They have outside scoring, a good inside game and the defensive intensity is as good as you will see in a high school game.”
White, Bennington, Duplaga and Reinbeau made the All-Tournament team for Wheeling Central.
“You want to win every tournament you play in,” Kurtz said. “This year we got the Williamstown Tournament, we won this tournament. We have two more tournaments we want to win.”
(at Wheeling Jesuit)
Wheeling Central 67, Madonna 35
M — Boniti 0-0 0-0 0; Riccasonna 1-8 0-0 3; Staffileno 0-3 4-13 4; Alimario 5-11 0-0 10; Canei 4-8 2-3 12; Martin 0-1 0-0 0; Mascio 2-3 0-0 4; Dowiak 0-4 4-4 4; Backel 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-39 10-21 35.
W — Gainer 2-6 2-2 7; Ferns 0-0 0-0 0; Bennington 3-7 3-4 12; Reinbeau 5-6 4-6 14; Duplaga 3-10 0-1 6; H.White 3-10 2-2 8; Saunders 1-3 0-1 2; Nixon 0-1 2-2 2; Huran 2-6 0-1 5; T.White 1-3 4-4 6; Davidson 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 22-57 17-23 67.
3-Point Goals: Riccasonna; Gainer, Bennington 3, Huran, Davidson.
Madonna 6 5 11 13 — 35
Wheeling Central 27 13 14 13 — 67