Everyone knows the game of basketball is simple. All a team has to do is score more points than their opponent to win. However, there are a whole lot of different paths to get to that win, and the West Holmes Lady Knights opted to use a time-honored tradition of rebounding to forge a huge league victory Dec. 20.
While West Holmes knocked off Ohio Cardinal Conference contenders Mt. Vernon and Wooster at home earlier this season, they faced a different kind of challenge when they traveled to Mansfield to face a rugged Mansfield Senior team that also has its eyes on winning the conference title.
Facing a tough task on the road, West Holmes proved to be up to the challenge, and took advantage of the glass to gain a key 49-40 road victory over the Tygers.
West Holmes out rebounded Mansfield Senior 33-15, and it was a total committee job cleaning the glass that helped them earn the win. Kacie Leppla hauled down eight rebounds, while Sammie Hall and Kaylor Perone both added seven with Kaylee Evans hauling in five caroms.
Perhaps the biggest difference in the game was the Lady Knights willingness to crash the offensive glass. Perone hauled in a whopping six offensive rebounds, Leppla added four and West Holmes recorded more offensive rebounds (20) than defensive ones (15).
The effort on the boards led them to a significant 33-15 edge on the glass, which created a lot more scoring opportunities for West Holmes. It also allowed them to get to the free throw line 20 times, although they were able to convert on only 10 of those charity tosses.
West Holmes actually got off to a great start, whirling to an 18-7 lead after one quarter. The two teams played evenly through the second frame and the Lady Knights held a comfortable 31-20 lead at the break. That lead grew to as many as 18 points in the third quarter, and the lady Knights seemed free and clear, leading 41-25 at the end of the third quarter.
However, the Tygers were not about to fold and go away quietly, especially on their home court, and they battled back in the fourth quarter.
Senior would go on a seven-point run late in the game that carved into the lead, but would never get closer than the final score.
Hall had a huge game for West Homes, scoring 14 points, adding seven boards and four assists. Kylie Leppla scored 11 points and pitched in with four assists, while Kacie Leppla scored 11 points to go with her eight rebounds. Perone scored eight points, Alexis Hunter added three and Taylor Yerian scored a pair in the win. Alaya Grose poured in a game-high 19 points for the Tygers.
West Holmes now stands at 5-2 on the year, and maintained its perfect mark in the OCC at 3-0, having defeated all three of the top contenders for the league crown.
Odd stat of the day
The Lady Knights currently boast an impressive 5-2 record, yet they have allowed more points (344) than they have scored (308). Their average point-differential in their five wins is 11 points per game, while their average differential in their losses is a mind-boggling 51 points per game.
The two losses that skew the numbers so badly are losses of 44 points and 58 points to North Canton Hoover and Hiland, respectively.
One can’t fault Lisa Ogi’s crew for falling badly to those two teams. Each are considered favorites to compete for a state title in their respective divisions.
What the numbers do indicate is that West Holmes knows how to win tight ball games, something that should be invaluable as they progress to the tournament trail later this season.
Little Lady Knights stay hot versus Colts
The Little Lady Knights middle school teams were in action versus Clear Fork, and it was good news on both fronts. The seventh grade Lady Knights defeated Clear Fork 44-6 Wednesday, Dec. 21 to improve to 7-1 on the season. The Little Lady Knights were led in scoring by Claire Reynolds with 16 points and Chloe Shumaker with eight points.
The eighth grade Lady Knights got a scare from the Colts, and had their perfect season in jeopardy, but they outscored Clear Fork 7-2 in overtime to defeat them 30-25. The win improves the team to 8-0 on the season. The Lady Knights were led in scoring by Katie Sprang with 14 points and Paige Race with eight, while Alicia Alexander ripped down five rebounds. The defense held Clear Fork to only 13 points over the final 21 minutes of play. WHMS will take on Hiland next Wednesday, Dec . 28.