Look, nothing up their sleeves… and with the wave of the magic wand, and the utterance of the magic word… presto… the West Holmes Lady Knights made something magical happen against Mansfield Madison Thursday, January 5 at The Dungeon at West Holmes High School.
However, for these magicians, the magic word wasn’t “abracadabra.” Instead it was “defense,” as all night long the Lady Knights turned defense into offense as if by magic. West Holmes’ half-court pressure defense led to 22 Rams turnovers, many coming off of steals that led to easy lay-ups on the other end of the floor, and it made for an easy night for Lisa Patterson’s crew.
The game began about as well as West Holmes could have hoped, as Sammie Hall and Kylie Leppla got them going from the opening tip, as West Holmes bolted to a 10-2 lead after one quarter.
Any hopes Madison had magically disappeared in the beginning of the second quarter when the Lady Knights went on a 9-0 run to begin the quarter.
Hall connected on a short jumper, then Taylor Yerian stole a pass, drove down the floor then made a great jump stop and a fake, allowing the Rams defender to go flying by before she laid it up and in. Celeste Ryman then made a steal the next trip down the floor for Madison, and she then turned that into a 3-pointer to give the Lady Knights a 17-2 lead. Madison then went down and traveled and Kacie Leppla worked her way open in inside for a quick score to make it 19-2.
Presto! West Holmes held an impressive lead in the wink of an eye.
Leah Boggs scored five straight points for Madison, and after Ryman drove and scored, Mackenzie Mullins scored for the Rams to make it 21-9, which was as close as Madison would get. That was because the Lady Knights were about to use a little more defensive hocus pocus to pull away. Kylie Evans scored inside on a gorgeous pass from Kylie Leppla, and West Holmes forced Madison to throw it away on the other end. Kylie Leppla then went down and drained a 3-pointer, before Yerian made another steal and found Kylie Leppla all by her lonesome in the corner for another three-ball. At the half, West Holmes held a commanding 29-11 lead, and had built it on defense, featuring Yerian and Ryman, who were hounding Rams ball handlers relentlessly.
Kaylor Perone dropped in a 3-pointer for the Lady Knights, but Madison snuck to within 32-15 on a Tara Andrew bucket in the third quarter, before West Holmes went on another run, this one a 9-0 blitzkrieg.
It started with a Yerian drive right down the lane, and Hall split a pair of charity tosses before Perone made a steal and fed Hall for an easy score. Kylie Leppla then nailed her fourth rainbow three-ball of the game, and Yerian made yet another steal and fed Kylie Leppla, who was fouled and made one of the two free throws for a 41-15 lead.
Yerian’s presence on the defensive end was perhaps the biggest factor in West Holmes’ domination, as she disrupted the flow of the Rams’ offense all night with her quickness.
A Rams score to start the fourth was followed by a Perone bucket and a Ryman slashing lay-up. Ryman continued to haunt the Rams on defense, picked up another steal and then forced a jump ball on the next possession. When Alexis Hunter got open inside for a score and Ryman hit a high-arching trey, West Holmes was running away at 48-17.
Patterson emptied her bench in the early fourth quarter, which gave fans a chance to glimpse the future of West Holmes basketball, as Maddie Woods picked up where Yerian and Ryman left off. The flashy freshman exhibited some tremendous game skills and speed, scoring four points, adding a steal and an assist and generally wreaking havoc on the defensive end.
Jess Marmet would tack on three points late and the Lady Knights would finish their night of magic on a 5-0 run, as the youngsters showed they can compete at the varsity level.
Kylie Leppla was brilliant all night, scoring a game-high 15 points, adding three rebounds and four triples and again taking great care of the ball. Ryman hit a pair of threes on her ay to a 10-point ball game, and she added four thefts on the night. Yerian had four points, four rebounds and four assists, while Hall scored eight points Marmet added three points and five rebounds, Perone scored five points and three assists and Woods tacked on four points.
Brooklyn Arnold scored seven points for Madison, but West Holmes held the Rams’ leading scorer in check all night. Andrews added six and Boggs scored five, all in a 20 second span.
West Holmes shot a sizzling 21-of-41 from the floor for 51 percent, while limiting Madison to just 9-of-27 for 33 percent. The Lady Knights also ruled the glass, where they held a 22-11 edge, and they showed plenty of teamwork in doling out 13 assists to zero for Madison.
The win improved West Holmes to 8-2 on the year, while it remained perfect in Ohio Cardinal Conference play at 5-0, staying one game up on Wooster. Madison fell to 2-6 and 0-3 in OCC play.