WHEELING - One thing that is certain following Wheeling Central's 66-21 dismantling of Hundred on Tuesday - the Maroon Knights look more than ready to make another run at a state championship.
For a team that has multiple victories against Class AAA powerhouse Wheeling Park and topped Shadyside for an OVAC championship two weeks ago, Wheeling Central had little trouble sending Hundred home in their West Virginia Class A Region One, Section One semifinal at the Wheeling Central gymnasium.
Hundred won the opening tip and turned the ball over shortly after making it past mid-court. The next time the Hornets reached the Wheeling Central side of the floor, they were down 10-0.
Wheeling Central’s Cassie Sorge, middle, gains control of the ball as Hundred’s Haley Hayes, left, and Mercedes Goff defend Tuesday.
Photo by Josh Strope
Wheeling Central forced eight Hundred turnovers before the Hornets even got a shot off.
''We thought we could pressure them and we felt their ballhandlers were a little bit inexperienced,'' Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. ''We really felt our press would really keep them on their side of the court.''
Katie Tennant finally got Hundred (11-13) on the board as the Hornets finally broke the press to get an easy basket. Wheeling Central responded by scoring the next 11 to go up 21-2.
The only thing that went wrong all night for Wheeling Central (20-3) was a team technical assessed when Ashley Martin checked into the game, only to be discovered that she wasn't in the book.
Tennant made the two free throws, but by then Wheeling Central was on cruise control.
''I thought we got a little lazy in the second quarter for a little while, but when you get a big lead like that, it happens,'' Kurtz said. ''We talk about staying focused, no matter what the score is.
''We knew (Tennant), she could shoot if she got the ball inside so we wanted to come out and pressure them early. We had to extend that pressure out to make sure they couldn't get open looks.''
Wheeling Central led 36-7 at halftime and most of the second half was played by the Maroon Knights reserves.
Emily Bucon paced Wheeling Central with 17 points (she technically had 19, but both books missed a basket at the end of the first quarter), followed by 10 from Bri Robbins.
Hundred, which had more turnovers (34) than points, was led by Tennant with eight points.
''We played hard but they are the best team in the state for a reason,'' Hundred coach Jeremy Kelch said. ''That is the fastest, biggest team we've seen by far all year. They were more physical and beat us in every aspect of the game.
''My girls fought the whole game but they are just really good - an awesome basketball team.''
Wheeling Central advances to play Madonna for the sectional title at 7 p.m. Friday at John Marshall High School. The Maroon Knights defeated the Blue Dons, 49-31, earlier this season in the Undo's Tournament.
''Weirton Madonna is going to be a tough battle,'' Kurtz said.
''When we played them in the Undo's, they jumped on us in the first quarter before we could settle down. They are a little banged up but they are going to come to fight. They have a bunch of seniors that aren't going to go down easy.''