West Holmes Girls Basketball

Lady Knights win a foulfest over Rams in a key OCC contest

Katie Sprang

The West Holmes Lady Knights hosted the Madison Rams in a wild and weird girls basketball game in The Dungeon at West Holmes High School on Tuesday, Dec. 13.

In a game that featured 25 turnovers from each team; 40 fouls, 26 of which came in the second half; and a caravan of treks to the free throw line, it would be the Lady Knights who would cash in on their free throws to win 53-46.

The key to victory for West Holmes was their ability to connect at the charity stripe. The Lady Knights canned 23-of-31 free throws for 74 percent while the Rams made just 6-of-18 for a paltry 33 percent. In a seven-point game, those numbers are the difference between a win and a loss.

For a youthful West Holmes team in a wide-open Ohio Cardinal Conference race, this win over one of the league contenders was a huge confidence boost.

“That’s a good team, and that is a good win,” West Holmes head coach Lindsy Snyder said. “We took a hit in our loss to Wooster, but we have another crack at them. In the OCC we need to take care of business every night, and for us it’s one game at a time. Tonight I thought we really grew up a lot as a team against a team that showed pretty good defensive pressure.”

The game began with West Holmes taking a 9-2 lead on the strength of the play of Charolette Brown’s five points and Katie Sprang’s runner in the lane. Eventually Madison would creep back into the game and get within three, but Brown scored again to push the West Holmes lead to 16-8 through one period.

The two teams traded buckets for most of the second quarter before Hannah Rohr knocked down a jumper, and with time winding down, Regan Wilcox got to a spot on the 3-point arc and launched a long jumper that found the mark and gave West Holmes a 29-20 advantage at intermission.

Madison picked up its defensive pressure in the second half and forced three quick turnovers on the Lady Knights, but West Holmes’ defense also was proving tough to crack. Eventually Wilcox started lighting it up. Her outside game, including a couple of treys, and Brown’s game inside led the Lady Knights to a 35-26 lead with time winding down in the quarter. At that point Brown and Taylor Miller each nailed two free throws, and with two seconds left in the quarter, sneaky point guard Katrina Rolince timed the ensuing inbound pass off the last of the free throws to perfection. She stepped in, grabbed the ball, took two dribbles and fired a sideways shot as she flew out of bounds. The shot went through, and the Lady Knights held a convincing 41-26 lead.

“We have talked to both Hannah [Rohr] and Kat [Rolince] a lot about timing those inbound passes up on a free throw,” Snyder said. “That was a terrific play, and to be able to get the shot to fall was amazing. It was great for her confidence.”

The Rams amped up their pressure even further, and some of West Holmes’ lazy, telegraphed passes were getting picked off. At that point Chesney Davis began asserting herself, and the athletic Ram started racking up points as Madison mounted a rally.

But with just under four minutes to play, both teams went into complete foul mode, and it was a parade to the free throw line that continued until the final horn.

Fortunately West Holmes made the most of its opportunities, connecting on 13-of-17 free throws down the stretch while the Rams made just 2-of-8. It would be Taylor leading the way, making all six of her charity tosses.

“She has worked relentlessly on her free throws,” Snyder said of Miller.

Snyder said the team concept to get to the free throw line as much as possible is something they work at and hope to attain. On this night they exceeded all expectations.

“I thought a lot of the foul shots we earned were a direct result of our team defense and rebounding,” Snyder said. “We worked very hard on both aspects this week. We did a much better job in the second half of boxing out properly, and that made a huge difference.”

However, because the Lady Knights kept turning the ball over, it gave Madison some easy lay-ups that resulted in a closer score than it could have been.

“We’re still learning on the job,” Snyder said. “They did a nice job of changing up their defensive sets, and that gave us some problems, but that is something we will have to learn to deal with. That said, I was really pleased with the steps we took tonight. We have things to work on, but I think we took a nice step forward tonight.”

The Lady Knights were led in scoring by seniors Wilcox and Brown with 13 points each. Miller added eight points and six rebounds while Sprang recorded seven points and led the team in rebounds with eight. Alicia Alexander took two charges for the Lady Knights, but most importantly Rolince stepped into the point guard spot and did everything her coach asked of her in a new role.

“She faced a lot of pressure, and I thought she held up pretty well,” Snyder said. “She had the ball in her hands a lot more than she is used to tonight, and she didn’t look out of place. Kat did a nice job.”

West Holmes moved to 3-2 while Madison fell to 2-2 on the year. The Lady Knights also grabbed second place in the OCC at 2-1 while handing Madison its first loss.

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