West Holmes Girls Basketball

Generals claim OCC crown despite a terrific effort by Lady Knights

Charolette Brown and the Lady Knights give Generals a scare before Woo wins OCC title

On Saturday, Feb. 2 at West Holmes High School, one team wanted to wrap up a league title, and the other team wanted to prove it is dangerous as tournament time rolls around.

It was mission accomplished on both ends as Wooster and West Holmes waged a fantastic girls basketball game.

Wooster came into The Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Saturday, Feb. 2 looking to sew up the outright championship in Ohio Cardinal Conference girls basketball.

It was a battle to the finish before Wooster pulled out a thrilling 52-47 game with late free throws.

For Wooster head coach Mike Baus, there was no better, more challenging and fitting way for his team to earn the title than to go through the team that has garnered that honor nine times since the 2008 season.

“West Holmes plays hard, they don’t give up, and they are dangerous because they are tenacious, so I give them a lot of credit,” Baus said. “I can’t think of a better place to win the OCC than here with their rich history and previous success. We knew this was going to be a challenge and they would go out and make us earn it, which is the way we wanted to earn it. It was a challenge, and we made it closer than it needed to be, but we’ll take it, and we aren’t giving it back. We gutted it out and got it done.”

While Baus and his team were preparing to sew up a second straight league title, Lindsy Snyder’s crew had other ideas. Having been spanked in their prior game with Wooster, Snyder wanted her team to show exactly how much they have improved over the course of this season, and a great showing and perhaps even a win would give them some incredible momentum and maybe even some key style points as seeding for the tournament rolls around.

While the Lady Knights didn’t get the win, what they did get was an incredible effort that pushed the only undefeated team in OCC play to the brink, and that put a smile on Snyder’s face.

“It stinks to lose, but we did a lot of things well, and we grew up a lot tonight,” Snyder said. “We were able to make an in-game adjustment, and that is something we haven’t done. I hate losing, but if you look at the big picture, hopefully this prepared us for the tournament in the long run. Hopefully we can implement the things we learned tonight in the future.”

The Lady Knights (11-7, 8-3 in the OCC) let it be known early on that they meant business, Paige Race and Regan Wilcox blasting 3-pointers in the first quarter. However, Wooster countered courtesy of Daisha Brown, who tallied eight points in the period to lead Wooster (15-2, 11-0 in the OCC) to a slight 12-10 advantage through one period.

Wooster quickly pushed its lead to eight in the second quarter when Sydney Clapp hit a free throw, Brown drove for two and Anna Cichello drained a triple. Katie Sprang scored inside, and Hannah Rohr buried a three-ball for the Lady Knights, but the Generals’ lead grew to nine at 24-15 when Ravin Morgan scored off a steal and Brown drove baseline right.

With a chance to push ahead by double digits, Wooster committed a late turnover that turned into a Charolette Brown score, and Wooster had to settle for a 24-17 half-time lead.

The third quarter saw West Holmes answer every Wooster push to put this one away. A Brown score put Wooster ahead 29-21, but West Holmes got a trey from Wilcox and a Sprang jumper. After Stephanie Smith scored on the block on a lob pass, Race buried a 3-pointer, and West Holmes was within two at 31-29.

That was when it appeared as though Wooster might impose its will on West Holmes. Smith split two free throws, Brown scored off a steal, and both Smith and Brown nailed a pair of free throws to move the Generals ahead 38-29. Race stemmed the run with a nice drive down the paint, but Brown did the same, giving Wooster a 40-31 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

The teams traded scores that left Wooster up 44-35, but with less than four minutes to play, the Lady Knights began stepping up their pressure, and it was about to pay off.

Sprang scored two inside, and Race knocked down a trey to trim the deficit to 44-40 with 3:30 left. On one trip down the floor, Brown hit 3-of-4 free throws when she connected on the first, missed the second but got her own rebound and was fouled again.

Down seven, Alicia Alexander made her presence known to get the Lady Knights back in contention. After Taylor Miller missed two free throws, Alexander slid in between the trees and secured the rebound and was fouled. She hit the first and missed the second, but like Brown, she hustled her way into the rebound. It didn’t lead to a score, but moments later she made a key steal and fed Wilcox, who found the sprinting Race, who laid it in to get West Holmes to within 47-43 with 2:30 left.

The teams traded empty possessions before Cichello split two free throws. Sprang drove for a score. Then Miller came up with a key steal that led to a Race score with 34 seconds to play and got the Lady Knights within one at 48-47. Brown split two free throws, but with a chance to tie or take the lead, Race powered through the lane and had the ball slapped off of her leg and out of bounds.

Leading by two with 14 seconds to play and the game in the balance, Wooster turned to Clapp, who was fouled and went to the line. This is the moment where a coach wants his leader and clutch player taking the ball, and Baus got it in Clapp, who tossed up two perfect free throws that never hit iron, giving Wooster a four-point lead. West Holmes came up empty on its attempt, and Brown hit a free throw, giving Wooster its final lead of five points.

“That was one of the better halves of basketball we’ve played this year,” Snyder said. “When we play together, we can be a special team, and we saw that in the second half tonight.”

As for her team’s improvement from the first Wooster game, Snyder was equally inspired.

“These girls aren’t going to crawl into a hole and say, ‘You beat us the first time, so you’ll beat us the second time,’” Snyder said. “We came with a fight, especially this senior group. They were ready to play and came with that attitude.”

With star player Macin Siegenthaler going down and out for the season after pouring in 31 points in their opener, Wooster rallied and divvied out the scoring chores and found a way to win without their leader this season.

“They have stepped up,” Baus said. “I really think everyone wrote us off after Macin went down, so this team needs to be credited with playing as a team, working together and sharing the load.”

West Holmes got 18 points from Race, 14 from Sprang and eight from Wilcox while Wooster got a balanced attack, led by Brown’s 21 points. Smith added 12, Morgan scored eight, Cichello tacked on six and Clapp scored five including two monstrous points at the end of the game.

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