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West Branch stops Mo Valley
Friday, January 18, 2013
By Andy Stine Sports Writer
ALLPORT - After the West Branch girls basketball team had Moshannon Valley on the ropes in the first quarter of Thursday evening's contest, the Damsels found their aggressiveness that led to many foul shots.
The Damsels went 11-for-13 from the charity stripe in the period and cut the deficit to just three points at the half.
But the Lady Warriors buckled down and hit shots early in the second half, while forcing many Damsel turnovers to help West Branch defeat Mo Valley, 66-37.
"Give the girls credit for responding in the second half," said West Branch head coach Dan Socash. "We could've continued to do what we did in the first half, but we didn't. We stepped it up. We looked better with our execution."
The Lady Warriors press defense proved to be strong in the first quarter as it forced Mo Valley into 15 turnovers in the first eight minutes.
Janene Couteret went 5-for-8 from the foul line in the first quarter, while Christie Sabol scored all of her seven points in the frame, before being forced out of the game early in the second quarter due to an ankle injury.
"When Christie got hurt, that seemed like it switched the tide," said Socash. "They kind of got down. Then we started fouling. We weren't moving our feet. They were being aggressive and we weren't.
"Give them credit for that. They turned the tide by being aggressive and we were just backing up because we were getting in foul trouble. We were down and we get like that sometimes. I don't like it, but we do."
West Branch led 24-13 with four minutes to go in the second quarter, but the Damsels went on a 10-2 run to go into halftime down, 26-23.
"In the second quarter, we had some girls getting aggressive and pushing the ball to the basket," said Mo Valley head coach Van Cornish. "It finally clicked to them there that they could do it, especially the younger girls. Emily Kolesar attacked and got them into foul trouble. We were being aggressive and taking it to the rim, and they weren't.
"We made so many foul shots in the second quarter. I've never seen them shoot foul shots so well. It was a good half, minus the start with the turnovers. If we hadn't had the turnovers to start the game, that second quarter would have been a lot bigger. It may have been a different game."
"We fouled them and they hit their foul shots," said Socash. "That kept them right with us. Mo Valley always plays us tough. They were pursuing the ball better than us. I was telling them we have to rebound. We were giving them way too many second shots, but they were pursuing the ball better, too."
Hannah Kitko led all scorers for Mo Valley with eight points, while Kolesar had seven points and nine rebounds.
"She's athletic and she's quick and she has some vertical leap to her," said Cornish of Kolesar. "She's aggressive, so she can go up and get it. She's shown us that with her defense. She's got the athleticism to do that."
Just 1:35 into the third quarter, the Lady Warriors found themselves up by 12 points after a 9-0 run to start the half.
MeLesha Ahlberg hit her first of three treys, while Couteret had a pair of layups to lead the run. The Lady Warriors outscored Mo Valley, 23-8, in the stanza.
Couteret scored eight points in the quarter, while Tayia Swoope had all of her four points, including going 2-for-2 from the line.
"We came out in the second half and tried to utilize our speed," said Socash. "I think that was the key."
"In the third and fourth quarter, we got away from (the gameplan)," said Cornish. "We go in spurts. We have a great second quarter and then we can't recapture. We have to go for four quarters. Hopefully we can put this together and build on it."
West Branch outscored Mo Valley, 17-6, in the last eight minutes. Couteret had five points to finish her night with 20, while Ahlberg had 10.
"We missed a lot of easy shots in the first half," said Socash. "Give them credit for coming back in the second half and righting the ship."
"It was a good first half, but it's the fact that we have to put it all together," said Cornish. "They were really happy with that first half with the way they were playing. They have to take that and keep doing that for four quarters. If we can do it for four whole quarters, we can stay with the better teams in the MVL."
The Lady Warriors defeated Moshannon Valley, 24-17, in the junior varsity game. Jalee Rockey led all scorers with 12 points for West Branch, while Haley Stodart had five points for the Damsels.
West Branch improved to 6-4 overall, 3-0 in the Moshannon Valley League, and 4-3 in the Inter-County Conference. The Lady Warriors travel to Curwensville tonight.
Mo Valley (1-12 overall, 1-3 MVL, 0-7 ICC) visits Juniata Valley on Tuesday.

Moshannon Valley-37
Swoope 1 2-2 4, Smith 1 0-0 2, Stodart 2 0-0 4, Kolesar 2 3-5 7, H. Kitko 1 6-8 8, K. Kitko 0 0-0 0, Kronenwetter 3 0-0 6, Matchock 1 2-2 4, Smeal 0 2-2 2. Totals: 11 15-19 37.
West Branch-66
Nye 2 0-1 5, Couteret 7 6-10 20, Ahlberg 3 1-2 10, Sabol 3 1-3 7, McCracken 2 2-2 6, Kolesar 3 0-0 6, Croyle 3 1-2 8, Miller 2 0-0 4, Pedmo 0 0-0 0, Prinkey 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 11-20 66.
Three-pointers: Nye, Ahlberg 3, Croyle.
Score by Quarters
Moshannon Valley    4 19   8 6-37
West Branch          17   9 23 17-66
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