Lady Knights wins a wild one over Wooster

Lady Knights wins a wild one over Wooster

In a game featuring similar talent and similar strategies, it often comes down to who can execute the best.

In host West Holmes’ 55-52 win over Wooster Thursday, Dec. 2 in the Dungeon, execution took on a big role as both teams did a great job of pushing the other to the limit with stifling man-to-man pressure.

It really came down to the Lady Knights finding a way to stave off a series of Generals' comeback bids throughout the game, and in the end, both head coaches got a glimpse of what their team was made of, and each came away with plenty of positives from what was an extremely entertaining contest between two of the Ohio Cardinal Conference’s top teams.

“We are buying in and playing your role, and everybody filled their role,” said West Holmes head coach Lindsy Snyder.

Wooster first-year head coach Alex Kacere said while the Generals never relish a loss, seeing his team play the way it did minus a key player in Abbigail Jones and watching his team respond to several deficits to battle back was encouraging.

“For a loss, we’ll take that one,” Kacere said. “We don’t want to lose, but that was a learning game for this team. It’s an entire new team, an entire new offense and defense, and we stuck with it and played hard the whole time. Down a starter, we couldn’t be more pleased (in a loss).”

Snyder said she likes the team she has, and they are playing together, and most importantly the team has committed to 32-minutes of on-ball pressure that forced the Generals into a ton of turnovers, mostly on steals, where defensive wizard Allie McMillen and fellow guard Kinsey Patterson collected four and five steals respectively.

McMillen had the chore of guarding super-quick ball handler Nora Levy, who did a great job of handling the pressure after a tough start.

“I feel like out guards pressured better than most teams, but those two guards tonight gave us a run for our money,” Snyder said. “Those are probably the quickest guards we’ll see all year.”

Snyder said Allie McMillen’s on-ball intensity frees up their other guard to play fast and free and get their hands in passing lanes.

McMillen said she relished the opportunity to take on Levy, recognizing the challenge that task presented.

“This was so much fun,” Allie McMillen said. “Nora’s such a great player, and I love taking on those types of challenges. I was really looking forward to this.”

Eily Badertscher lit it up early and late to give Wooster everyone opportunity to win. She hit two threes right out of the gate to spot Wooster to a 6-2 lead, then hit three more bombs late in the game to help the Generals rally.

Her early triples and West Holmes’ defense made the game feel like it might end up in the 70s, with both teams scoring at will early. Badertscher and Levy produced six points apiece in the first quarter, but the Lady Knights got five from Patterson and four apiece from Ella McMillen and Emily Fair as WHHS took a 16-14 lead through one quarter.

The pace slowed just a tad in the second period. West Holmes looked poised to run away early in the quarter. A Fair trey, Allie McMillen’s steal and score and Ella McMillen’s jumper pushed the lead to 23-16. When Allie McMillen hit a free throw off a steal and Fair connected on a jumper, the Lady Knights lead was 26-14. West Holmes could have pulled away as it took Wooster five minutes into the quarter to score, but Levy came through with two buckets and Wooster hung tough, outscoring West Holmes 8-1 over the final three minutes, leaving the Lady Knights, who missed several layups, ahead 27-22 at intermission.

“One of the things we addressed at halftime was that we just needed to compose ourselves,” Kacere said. “It felt a little fast for us, and without Abbi Jones we couldn’t press.”

Wooster guard Tori Pettorini clicked for five quick points to start the second half, and that quickly the Generals had drawn to within two. Moments later Grace Kostohryz made two free throws at things were locked up at 31-apiece.

The Lady Knights proved their mettle by scoring the next five with Keegan Uhl coming up big, but with time winding down in the quarter, Badertscher hit a long triple to draw Wooster to within one. Going for the final shot, West Holmes got it, but the ball ricocheted off the front iron and a tip sent it careening toward the sideline. Patterson chased it down and with time expiring, launched a wild heave as she fell out of bounds. The monster toss found its mark as the horn sounded and WHHS was up 41-35 heading to the final eight minutes.

A trey from Pettorini and two from Badertscher quickly gave Wooster its first lead since the first two minutes of play, and the Lady Knights were facing another turning point.

“There were times when it felt like we were going to blow this thing open, but Wooster made shots,” Snyder said. “But the bottom line is, I trust our kids and they are going to play hard. I fully trust that when we get down, we are going to continue to fight. They are too invested to give up.”

They responded with three free throws from Allie McMillen, but Kostohryz scored inside to even things at 47-all.

With time winding down, Patterson stepped up, assisting Allie McMillen on a nice pass, and then making a steal that led to an Ella McMillen score.

With 90 seconds to play the Generals had several chances but came up empty, and West Holmes ran the clock down to 58 seconds before Patterson was fouled. The cool senior calmly ripped the net twice for a 53-47 lead. Badertscher struck again from deep to make it 53-50 with 38 seconds to play, but Allie McMillen stepped to the line to hit two huge free throws. Another Patterson steal sealed Wooster’s fate and the Lady Knights held on for the victory.

“We haven’t played any 20-point blowout wins yet,” Snyder said. “At some point, I hope to get one of those where we can relax and chill.”

Kacere said his team fully believes it can win the OCC and said this game should give his team great confidence moving forward.

Ella McMillen produced a monster game for the Lady Knights, scoring 17 points, adding 10 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Allie McMillen scored a season-high 16, adding four steals, while Fair contributed 11 points and eight rebounds and Patterson scored eight points and collected five steals to help WHHS improve to 3-1.

Wooster was led by Badertscher, who canned six 3-pointers en route to a 20-point night. Levy added 15 points and Pettorini tacked on 10 for the Generals, who dipped to 1-2 on the year.