Oak Glen comes back to defeat Weir High

DRIVING THROUGH — Oak Glen’s Brittany Giorgini attempts to drive between Weir High’s Gia Fuscardo, left, and Julila Gianni on Monday. (Andrew Grimm)

NEW MANCHESTER — Oak Glen girls basketball coach Scott Wiley knew visiting Weir High would provide his Golden Bears a physical challenge.

After overcoming a slow start, Oak Glen was up to the task, taking over in the fourth quarter to claim a 52-44 victory over the rival Red Riders.

“We told them to be patient and keep playing,” Wiley said of his message at halftime. “We told them to just hold with it and keep doing what they were doing. It worked out for us. (Weir High coach) Rick (Stead) has a nice team.”

Wiley pointed to two key statistics — turnovers and rebounds. The Golden Bears (2-2) limited the giveaways to just 11 in the final 16 minutes after turning the ball over 18 times in the first half.

“It seemed like we took care of the ball a little bit more in the second half,” Wiley said. “We picked up our intensity a little more. We knew Weir was coming in playing a full-court press. It is hard to simulate that (in practice). We have been working on our press, too. We have some quick kids, and we need to use that speed. They say a pressing team doesn’t like to be pressed, so that’s what we are trying to do.”

The Red Riders (0-2), on the other hand, turned the ball over 13 times in the fourth quarter alone and 36 times total.

“You can’t turn the ball over against a good basketball team and expect to have a chance to win the basketball game,” Stead said. “A lot of it was uncontested. We just threw the ball away. That, combined with missing layups and some good open shots, made it tough.”

On the boards, the smaller Golden Bears matched the Red Riders with 37 rebounds. Alexa Andrews and Alayna Kranis had 10 each for Wiley’s club.

“That is big for us,” Wiley said. “We are not a real big team. For them to be physical and get rebounds for us makes all the difference. They miss a shot, we get the rebound and go the other way.”

After Weir High jumped out to a 9-0 lead, Oak Glen came charging back with a 7-0 run to get back in it. The Red Riders held an 18-15 lead at the break.

Early in the third quarter, the Golden Bears took their first lead on long 3-pointer by Maggie Kovalcik, who finished with a game-high 17 points.

“She doesn’t get a day off,” Wiley said of Kovalcik. “We need her to (score). Her defense was good, too. She doesn’t get enough credit for that. She usually has five or six steals a game just because of her quickness. As our only senior, we expect that from her and she delivers.”

Another shot from beyond the arc, this time by Reece Enochs, gave Oak Glen the lead at the buzzer to end the third quarter, 34-32.

In the fourth quarter, the Golden Bears started with a 6-2 run and led by as many as seven. Weir High closed to within three with just over a minute to play, but the giveaways turned out to be too much to overcome as Kovalcik turned one into a bucket, and another into a pair of late free throws to help seal the deal.

Even though his team is yet to win, Stead was happy with the effort and thinks all the problems are correctable.

“Our girls play hard,” he said. “Everything is correctable. Sometimes wanting to play hard transfers into errors. I’m pleased with the effort. We’ve just got to learn how to play under control.”

Sophia Mikula and Isabella Aperfine had 10 points each for the Red Riders.

Both teams are back in action on Thursday. Oak Glen hosts Indian Creek, while Weir High hosts city rival Madonna.

GAME NOTES

¯ Oak Glen won the jayvee game, 40-2. Sophia Arner had nine points to lead the way for the Golden Bears. The Red Riders’ lone bucket came from Andrea Harper.

(Grimm can be reached at agrimm@heraldstaronline.com)

Oak Glen 52, Weir High 44

Weir High 9-9-14-12 — 44

Oak Glen 4-11-19-18 — 52

WEIR HIGH (0-2): Mikula 5 0-1 10; Fuscardo 2 3-12 7; Bernola 1 0-0 2; Aperfine 5 0-0 10; Gianni 2 3-4 7; 3 2-4 8; Nutter 3 2-4 8; Vuiller 0 0-0 0; Elmore 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18 8-21 44.

OAK GLEN (2-2): Giorgini 3 2-6 8; Enochs 3 0-0 6; Kovalcik 7 2-4 17; Andrews 3 7-17 17; McNutt 0 0-0 0; McKay 2 0-3 4; Barganski 0 0-0 0; Kranis 2 1-6 3. TOTALS: 20 12-36 52.

3-POINT GOALS: Weir High 0; Oak Glen 2 (Kovalcik, Andrews). ASSISTS: Weir High 9 (Aperfine); Oak Glen 16 (Kovalcik). REBOUNDS: Weir High 37 (Aperfine 7, Nutter 7); Oak Glen 37 (Andrews 10, Kranis 10). TURNOVERS: Weir High 36; Oak Glen 29.

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