By MATTHEW PEASLEE
For the Intelligencer
WELLSBURG - If the Valentine's Day decorations were replaced with Santa Clauses, reindeer and candy canes, the Brooke girls basketball team might have lost Thursday's game with Weir.
Since it's the middle of February and not the beginning of December, the Bruins pulled out a 53-42 victory against the Red Riders at the Brooke Wellness Center.
It improves their season record to 7-14, nearly matching the combined win totals of the past two seasons.
"It's a big step for us," said Brooke coach Ryan Scherich. "We've had a couple of tight games lately. It's nice to be able to pull them off.
"At the beginning of the year, we were losing these games. At the end of the year, we're winning these games."
The Bruins led for the entirety and quickly took a 13-3 lead with three minutes remaining in the first quarter after junior Angela Staffileno sunk her third 3-pointer in as many tries.
Brooke led 17-8 after the first eight minutes and 28-15 at halftime. Staffileno, who picked up a scholarship offer from Duquesne this week, scored 17 of her 28 points in the first half.
"We changed up our defense after the first half," said Weir coach Bill Smith. "We had to. We had to try and stop her."
The Red Riders (6-13) limited Staffileno to just two points in the third quarter and outscored Brooke, 16-13.
"We did play some good defense in spots and took some good shots to get back in this thing," Smith said.
Weir scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and eventually cut the deficit to just four, at 46-42, with under five minutes left.
But the Red Riders wouldn't score again.
The Bruins rattled off the final seven points of the game with Staffileno converting all four of their field goals in the quarter.
"We have to finish," Smith said. "We had opportunities late and didn't take care of the basketball. Consequently, that's what happens.
"We've had games like this all through the year. It comes down to the end and we can't finish."
As Weir was making its run, Scherich was faced with the task of keeping his team calm. The Bruins turned the ball over six times in the frame, after committing just 10 turnovers in the previous 24 minutes.
"I told them to just keep playing their game," Scherich said. "They had to move the ball better than they were. We've been pretty sick this week so I attribute that to the team being sluggish a little bit."
Michaela Hinerman and Christa D'Ulisse each added five points for Brooke, as did Gabby Velegol and Kelsey Wensyel - both freshman.
"They're some of our our more skilled basketball players," Scherich said. "It just took them a little bit more time to pick up their pace of the game. I don't think they've realized how fast it is from the middle school level.
"They've gotten more comfortable as the season has gone along and they're playing well."
Staffileno had five blocks and grabbed 12 of the Bruins' 37 rebounds, while Payge Farmer brought down 10, added three points and created six steals.
For Weir, Raegan Stead led with 13 points and Alyssa Shingle added nine on three 3-pointers. Ashlyn Drizake added eight points with a team-high 10 rebounds, while Selena Wolverton also scored eight points.
There were only four total fouls, combined, in the first half. Brooke struggled from the line, converting just 9 of 19 and the Red Riders struggled just to get to the foul line making 2 of 4.
The Bruins remain at home for their next game against Cameron Tuesday. Weir travels to Wheeling Park on Tuesday.
"It doesn't get any easier," Smith said.
Oak Glen 53
WEIRTON - Monica Bragg poutred in 33 points to lead Madonna to a victory against Oak Glen.
Kate Lammers added nine for Madonna, which improved to 12-8.
Vanessa Hissam had 16 for Oak Glen while Jessica Stivason chipped in with 14.
The Dons led 31-18 at the half and held off the Golden Bears second half come-from-behind effort.