NORTH LEWISBURG — Thursday featured Triad’s gymnasium with frigid temperatures and a game between teams headed in opposite directions.
Ascending West Liberty-Salem defeated injury-riddled Triad, 64-28, in OHC girls basketball.
The Cardinals have virtually no depth after being hit with multiple injuries early in the year, but that didn’t stop them from competing early with WL-S, which is looking to have its name thrown into the state rankings.
Triad came out on a 5-0 flurry in the first three minutes, but the Tigers roared back on a 10-0 run to end the quarter.
As the game wore on, fatigue set in for the depleted Cardinals and West Liberty-Salem’s athleticism took over. Turnovers became common for the home team, with the visitors capitalizing on seemingly every opportunity.
In total, Triad turned the ball over 29 times to West Liberty-Salem’s 10.
“It’s a program issue. It’s on me. I’ve got to get more kids out and playing from a younger age so that when they get to high school, they can play like that. That’s not just something that happens in a couple of practices,” Triad Coach Jeff Merklin said. “You’re talking about one of the best Division III teams in the state right there. And they have an ability to, wherever you’re weak, they make you pay. Tonight, when they did miss, we rarely were there to get a defensive rebound. And that’s not necessarily bad basketball. That is good, hard-nosed basketball by a very good basketball team.”
Kelsey Day led the Tigers with 20 points, including six of the Tigers’ nine three-pointers. Gabby Hollar had 14 points and Selena Weaver scored 11.
Cati LeVan finished with 9 points and Frani LeVan had 8 for Triad.
“We got off to a little bit of a slow start, but they turned it around. After they got off to that 5-0 lead, the defense turned around and held them scoreless for a while and then we got some steals and baskets in transition,” WL-S Coach Dennis McIntosh said. “We finally got into our offense and Kelsey and Gabby hit some threes there to give us a lead. They’ve both been shooting the ball really well here lately. But the defense sets the precedent for the game.”
The Tigers led 29-9 at the half, but exploded for 23 points in the third quarter to take a 52-14 lead into the final period.
It was a convincing showing for a squad that has now beaten three state-ranked opponents and may finally find a spot in the polls next week.
“It’d be nice to see it in there, but it is what it is. It still comes down to the end of the year there’s only going to be one state champion,” McIntosh said. “That’s just the opinion of a lot of people.”
Triad (7-11, 3-10 OHC) travels to Mechanicsburg on Saturday while West Liberty-Salem (16-3, 13-0 OHC) – winners of 16 in a row – hosts Northeastern on Monday.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.