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Johnson Motors - 877-816-0659
Lady Warriors drop opener to BEA, 46-30
Saturday, December 8, 2012
By Jaclyn Yingling Sports Editor
ALLPORT - After starting out 7-0 last season then bowing out early in the D-6 playoffs, the West Branch girls basketball team had a different philosophy this year.
Head coach Dan Socash wanted to strengthen the team's schedule so that the Lady Warriors would be more prepared in the postseason.
And despite falling to visiting Bald Eagle Area, 46-30, on Friday evening in their season opener, Socash thinks the team is already accomplishing that mission.
"Last year we came out winning a lot of games, but this game is definitely something we can work on," he said. "I'm excited about that.
"We believe in what we need to do. We have a goal that we want to accomplish, and we are glad that Bald Eagle came down and played us hard. We needed that."
The Lady Warriors kept things close early, as the teams traded baskets to start the beginning of the first quarter.
Janene Couteret gave the Lady Warriors their first, and only, lead of the game after knocking down one of two shots from the foul line. That gave West Branch a brief, 5-4, lead with 4:32 remaining in the frame.
But the Lady Eagles went on a 13-0 run to end the quarter, putting the visitors up 17-5. Nine of those points came from Marissa Ward, who finished the game with 21 points.
"Overall, everything that we did wrong, we can correct," Socash said. "We didn't handle the pressure in spots too well, but that's expected. Bald Eagle is a good pressure team. They are very quick, very senior-laden and very mature.
"They moved their presses pretty quick. They had three presses that they gave us. We worked on two of them, and the other one we will be ready for next time."
While West Branch did a decent job handling the press, the Lady Warriors struggled with taking shots. Several different players passed up open looks in the first quarter and looked hesitant early.
"They were nervous," said Socash. "For me as a coach, I love to see that they had the open look. The shots will fall later on hopefully. We got a lot of open looks. We probably shot a terrible percentage, but we had a high percentage of shots as opposed to them.
"I told the girls before the season that we want to get the good looks, but then they have to knock them down."
West Branch fared better in the second quarter, scoring the first five points of the frame. Brianne Nye knocked down a trey on the Lady Warriors' opening possession, before Madison McCracken hit a jumper after a Lady Eagle turnover.
Socash switched things up as the second quarter was coming to a close, throwing in some fresh legs against the Lady Eagles, who were only rotating one sub in and out.
West Branch bench players Missy Croyle and Taylor Kolesar helped the cause, as Croyle went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe and Kolesar turned a rebound into a bucket to close the gap to 28-14 just before halftime.
The Lady Warriors came out looking more confident in the second half.
After Bald Eagle Area scored on a Kate Miller putback to start the third, West Branch answered with a Couteret layup.
The Lady Warriors played the Lady Eagles to a 6-6 tie in the third frame, taking advantage of foul trouble by the visitors.
West Branch scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, as MeLesha Ahlberg hit her second 3-pointer with 4:54 to go to cut the advantage to 43-30. But BEA closed out the game on a 4-0 run, setting the final at 46-30.
"We tied them in the second half," Socash said. "They finally got into some foul trouble. Maybe we got some shots to fall, too. We played aggressive and we got to the line. We did everything right, but we turned the ball over.
"We hung with them. We were really crashing hard this year. I love our energy after the shot. I was pleased with the way the girls played."
The Lady Warriors had three players with six points - Couteret, Ahlberg and Christie Sabol. McCracken added five points. Sabol netted eight rebounds, while Ahlberg had seven.
Bald Eagle Area's Ward led all scorers with 21 points, while Miller added 12 rebounds and nine points.
West Branch dropped to 0-1 on the season. The Lady Warriors host Williamsburg on Thursday.
"I told the girls at halftime that we can correct those pressure mistakes," said Socash. "Other than that, we missed a lot of shots. That's to be expected for the first game. I told them to just get to their spots and they would be fine. Every mistake we made we can fix.
"I wasn't happy to lose, but I thought we fought through some adversity.
The Lady Eagles also won the junior varsity game, 35-11. West Branch was led by four points from Breanna Hayward.

Bald Eagle Area-46
Simpson 1 1-1 3, Josefik 4 1-2 9, Ward 8 3-4 21, Pillot 1 0-0 2, Miller 3 3-4 9, Hardy 0 0-0 0, Eisenhuth 0 0-0 0, Chambers 0 0-0 0, Cingle 1 0-0 2, Peters 0 0-0 0, Geidroc 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 8-11 46.
West Branch-30
Nye 1 0-0 3, Couteret 2 2-4 6, Ahlberg 2 0-0 6, Sabol 3 0-4 6, McCracken 2 1-4 5, Croyle 0 2-4 2, Miller 0 0-0 0, Kolesar 1 0-0 2. 11 5-16 30.
Three-pointers: Ward 2; Ahlberg 2, Nye.
Score by Quarters
Bald Eagle Area   17 13 6 10-46
West Branch         5   9 6 10-30

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