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Weir High overwhelms Madonna

Maley, Nutter collect double-doubles in Red Riders’ 62-32 victory

CREATING SPACE — Weir High’s Mea Kaufman drives to the hoop with Madonna’s Anna Backel guarding during Thursday night’s contest. -- Joe Catullo

WEIRTON — Although Thursday marked the second game of the season for the Weir High girls, it already looks like it is in midseason form.

So far, the Red Riders’ recipe for success has been to build a double-digit lead in the first half, weather the storm of a potential comeback attempt and finish strong.

That was on full display during their 62-32 victory over arch-rival Madonna.

“This is the style of basketball we’ve been wanting to play the last couple of years,” Weir head coach Rick Stead said. “If you keep adding, get the right kids and they buy in to what you’re trying to do … they’ve turned a corner on this. I know it’s early, but if we can maintain this type of play, we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Following a 38-27 advantage after three quarters, the Blue Dons, who were playing in their season opener, scored the first basket in the fourth to trail by nine. Then, the Red Riders (2-0) bolted on a 17-1 scoring run.

Whether it was Leah Maley and Taylor Nutter crashing the glass and knocking down layups or the Aperfine sisters moving the ball around, everything clicked. Weir’s man defense also forced 12 fourth-quarter turnovers (30 overall).

“I liked our effort, but we didn’t put the effort in the right spot at times. But, those are things we can fix,” first-year Madonna head coach Cory Wingett said.

“I really believe in these kids. I know they’re a much better team than what we showed (Thursday). That happens, but we can recover and get better in every single practice.”

The Red Riders’ largest lead in the first half was 17 (26-9) midway through the second frame. The Blue Dons cut into it a little bit and trailed, 26-16, at halftime.

Each squad sprinted on mini runs and traded baskets in the third before Weir exploded.

“We told them after the game that we couldn’t be any prouder of the way they performed,” Stead said. “It was a little touch-and-go there in the third quarter, but they held it together and took the game over in the fourth. We’ve been waiting a long time to finish a game strong and be able to bring the jayvee kids in to finish it out.

“They did an excellent job of closing out, switching and getting through screens. They just played a great game all around. They do look like they’re in midseason form, and I just hope we can continue that level of consistency.”

Maley and Nutter were beasts in the paint all game long, each finishing with well-deserved double-doubles. Maley tallied game highs in points (17) and rebounds (15), while Nutter had 14 points, 12 boards and four assists. They combined for 16 points and 16 rebounds in the opening half alone.

“(Maley) does a great job moving around with the basketball and posting up. Taylor works hard to get to the glass,” Stead said. “She’s coming into her own this year. We told her that she needed to be more aggressive, and she is. They played well, and I really can’t say anything else more than that.”

Also for the Red Riders, Isabella Aperfine produced 13 points, five boards and three dimes. Sophia Aperfine scored a dozen and dished out a pair of assists.

Despite a few scoring runs to cut the gap, Madonna struggled in finding any consistency on offense. Also, working hard in the second half to do so may have tired some legs.

“Offensively, we really struggled, and I’ll own that. Going into the fourth, we cut it to single digits, so I was really excited to be in that position,” Wingett said. “We had some challenges and had to go deep in our bench with cramping and injuries. But, next girl up. That’s definitely no excuse.”

Jazzy Melnyk led the Blue Dons with 12 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Alaina Moore contributed five points and 11 boards. Marianna Martinez added five points, four rebounds and a dime.

“When you teach a 1-3-1 (zone), you teach your opposite guard to drop. When you’re down 15 or 16, it’s an all-out effort, and all of our guards are just trying to steal the ball,” Wingett said. “That could’ve had something to do with it. We were so aggressive in gaining the advantage that maybe it got the best of us.”

ACROSS THE STREET

Thursday’s contest was played inside St. Joe’s, the home of the Madonna boys squad, rather than the Dube Dome to accommodate more fans and distancing protocols.

JV ACTION

Weir won the jayvee contest, 22-12. Olivia Baker led the Red Riders with 11 points, while Madonna’s Lizzy Bain scored five.

UP NEXT

Weir: Tentatively hosts University on Monday.

Madonna: Tentatively hosts Trinity Christian tonight.

Weir High 62, Madonna 32

Weir High 13 13 12 24 — 62

Madonna 5 11 11 5 — 32

WEIR HIGH (2-0): S. Aperfine 4 3-4 12; Hoover 1 0-2 2; I. Aperfine 6 1-2 13; Maley 5 7-9 17; Nutter 6 2-4 14; Kaufman 1 1-2 4; Baker 0 0-0 0; Drobish 0 0-1 0; Mastrantoni 0 0-0 0; Palavis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23, 14-24: 62.

MADONNA (0-1): Backel 1 1-2 3; Alatis 2 1-2 5; Martinez 2 1-2 5; Moore 2 1-2 5; Melnyk 4 3-8 12; Battista 0 0-0 0; Wingett 0 0-0 0; Tacos 0 2-2 2; Lenhart 0 0-0 0; Sole 0 0-0 0; Pietraston 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 11, 9-18: 32.

3-POINT GOALS: Weir High 2 (S. Aperfine, Kaufman); Madonna 1 (Melnyk). REBOUNDS: Weir High 38 (Maley 15, Nutter 12); Madonna 31 (Moore 11, Melnyk 10). ASSISTS: Weir High 14 (Nutter 4); Madonna 6 (Melnyk 4). TURNOVERS: Weir High 17; Madonna 30.

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