Following a tough loss to Mansfield Madison in which her team was right in the game and had a chance to win, Lindsy Snyder’s Lady Knights of West Holmes were issued a challenge. Snyder’s message was simple. She implored her squad to step up and play an entire game with the same passion and effort that they did near the end of the Mansfield Madison game that saw her team trim a 14-point deficit to one possession before falling by five.
The first obstacle in their way would be the Ashland Arrows in a contest at Ashland on Saturday, Jan. 6.
Snyder got many of the answers she wanted to see as West Holmes got consistent offensive play and got a good all-around team effort in the 57-48 victory. The fact that the win came against an Arrows team that was battling for first place in the Ohio Cardinal Conference made the win even more memorable.
“That’s a very good Ashland team, but we came out and played with a lot of confidence and a lot more maturity than we did against Madison,” Snyder said.
West Holmes set the tone for their effort in the first quarter when the Lady Knights forged a 14-8 lead. Leading the way was the sophomore duo of Kaylin Martin and Maddie Woods, both of whom knocked down five points, and Snyder credited Woods with stepping up early to get them off on the right foot.
“She knocked down a couple of big shots early, and that confidence goes a long way in helping us all realize we can make shots,” Snyder said.
Ashland would respond quickly, or perhaps more accurately, Kylie Radebaugh would respond. Radebaugh hammered home three treys in the second quarter, and Alyssa Steury hit another one as the Arrows fashioned a 16-point quarter. However, Lady Knights’ senior Kaylor Perone drilled two 3-pointers en route to an eight-point quarter, and her effort helped West Holmes maintain a 28-24 halftime lead.
“When Kaylor both scores and gets kids involved, she is on top of her game, and we are such a better team when that happens,” Synder said of her lone healthy senior. “That is a big plus for us offensively because it helps give us balance on offense, and that makes it tougher for people to guard us.”
Ashland would draw to within three at the end of three quarters in an evenly played, defensive battle, and the Lady Knights clung to a slim 38-35 lead. This season has seen West Holmes stumble when games have been on the line, but on this night it was not going to happen.
Radebaugh did her best to keep the Arrows in it, drilling two more three-balls and a pair of free throws to finish off her 23-point night.
But West Holmes never flinched. Woods added six more points, Taylor Miller scored four more, and when it mattered the most late in the game with the Arrows pushing, the Lady Knights took trip after trip to the free throw line and came through to keep them at bay. Freshman Paige Race handled the pressure with a calmness beyond her youthfulness and made 3-of-4 free throws while Martin came through in a huge way, dropping all four of her charity tosses.
The Lady Knights got great scoring across the board, making it tough for Ashland to defend any one particular player. Perone netted a dozen points to lead the way while Woods tacked on 11, Martin added nine and Miller scored eight. Race, Regan Wilcox and Alicia Alexander all scored four, and Charolette Brown tacked on three with Morgan Allen pitching in with a deuce.
Snyder said playing hard hasn’t been the issue to date. She said all the coaches they play tell her how hard her group plays the game. However, she said developing a mental toughness to match that effort is key, and she said she saw some of that in the Ashland win.
“It’s about understanding our potential and being willing to work hard on all of the little things,” Snyder said. “We rebounded terribly against Madison. Against Ashland, I thought Charolette and Taylor boxed out extremely well, and that led to Regan pulling down 14 rebounds. That’s a much better job of understanding the game. Even though they might not have gotten the rebound, they made sure their team did, and that is growing in understanding of the whys of the game.”
The win improved the Lady Knights to 2-9 overall and to 2-3 in league play while Ashland fell to 8-5 overall and dropped two games behind Wooster in league play at 4-2. More importantly it gave the Lady Knights something to build on because this was not some second-tier team it had vanquished.
Now with the first round of OCC play in the books, Snyder said she is excited to see how her team can improve in the second time through the league. Ashland defeated both Mansfield Senior and Madison by double figures, so this win could go a long way in providing a starting point for the Lady Knights to improve their record.