West Holmes was coming off a grueling weekend of basketball that saw them play two terrific teams in Chippewa and Magnificat. The Lady Knights had played three games in a five-day stretch. Wooster had been beaten by the Lady Knights earlier in the season, and was fresh and more than ready to get a bit of revenge and propel themselves back into the hunt for the Ohio Cardinal Conference title talk.
The Thursday, January 19 game in Wooster was every bit a game that was perfectly set up for a West Holmes letdown and a generals victory.
Those games are called trap games.
But Lisa Ogi’s Lady Knights dug deep, and came out strong, utilizing some precision passing and great ball movement to take down Wooster 60-55 in a game that probably was not as close as that final score would indicate.
The Lady Knights went ahead 16-11 after one quarter, then put together what was one of their finest quarters of the year in forging a 32-16 half-time lead. The lead stood at 17 entering the final quarter, and although West Holmes missed a number of free throws down the stretch, Wooster never really challenged as West Holmes seized control in the OCC.
The victory moves West Holmes to 12-3 overall and a perfect 8-0 in league play, while Wooster fell to 9-4 and 5-3 in the OCC. Mt. Vernon and Mansfield Senior are both 5-2 in league, but West Holmes has already defeated both of them, so Ogi’s crew is very much in control of their own fate as far as capturing a seventh straight OCC championship.
Kacie Leppla got West Holmes an early lead, but Wooster eventually tied it at nine on Ny Brown’s put-back. That was when West Holmes started to take command. Jess Marmet scored inside, then her steal allowed Sam Hall to knock down a jumper. After Celeste Ryman nailed a three-ball, the Lady Knights had fashioned a 16-9 edge. Skylar Clapp would get Wooster going with a bucket to end the quarter with Wooster trailing 16-11.
However, the beginning of the second quarter would see West Holmes rush out to a big lead, and it was all due to some incredible ball movement and passing, as Kaylor Perone, Kylie Leppla and Taylor Yerian began doling out assists for wide open shots, and the Lady Knights capitalized by knocking them down.
Hall scored inside and Kacie Leppla’s steal led to a pair of Perone free throws. Another Kacie Leppla theft saw Perone penetrate and find a wide-open Hall for a 22-11 lead. Macyn Siegenthaler finally got Wooster on the board in the second quarter, but Hall hit two free throws, Perone made another awesome pas to find a wide-open Kaylee Evans and Ryman buried her second trey to make it 29-13.
Jaida McCloud got two back for Wooster, but Ryman would make it a trifecta from downtown by stroking her third 3-pointer, and the Lady Knights went into the half doubling up the Generals at 32-16.
The third quarter saw West Holmes answer every challenge put forth by Wooster.
Wooster’s star guard Ny Brown came out cooking in the quarter, driving in for a jumper, but Perone answered with a triple. Siegenthaler hit two free throws, and Yerian responded with a put-back. Brown scored, but Kacie Leppla scored twice inside, getting smart assists from Yerian and Perone.
Brown would drive for scores on consecutive possessions to trim the West Holmes lead to 41-27, but Hall would produce inside, Ryman would split two free throws and Perone would again find Evans inside to push the lead to its largest at 46-27.
Leading 46-27 heading to the fourth quarter, Siegenthaler and Brown would pick up the intensity for the Generals, but Hall’s and-one would spot the Lady Knights to a 54-38 lead with 4:40 to play.
Kylie Leppla’s free throw and Hall’s two charity tosses put West Holmes up 59-46 with two minutes to play, but to Wooster’s credit, they kept coming, as Mike Baus decided to put West Holmes on the line and stop the clock in an effort to close the gap.
Wooster did just that. With West Holmes leading 61-47, Siegenthaler scored four straight, and after the Lady Knights hit just one out of four free throws, and Brown pumped in four points to trim the deficit to 62-55 with 38 seconds to play.
But with time winding down, Hall hit two free throws and Yerian split her two to offset Brown’s five late points.
Wooster got 27 points from Brown and 21 from Siegenthaler, who went a blistering 13-of-14 from the charity stripe. However, no other General scored more than four points.
West Holmes got a much more balanced attack. Hall popped in 21, Ryman added 13, Kacie Leppla and Perone scored nine, Yerian added six and Marmet added four.
Wooster did hold a 31-25 edge on the glass, led by Stephanie Smith’s dozen boards, while the Lady Knights were paced by Marmet’s six caroms.
However, the biggest advantage for West Holmes was that it doled out 13 assists compared to just one for Wooster. Perone in particular was dazzling, passing out six assists.
For a trap game that was ripe for a Lady Knights upset, Ogi’s team displayed some mental toughness and exhibited teamwork and a passing fancy to stay firmly entrenched on top of the OCC.