WEIRTON - Tight games often come down to turnovers and free throw shooting.
Thursday night at Bill Barrett Gymnasium, the Weir Lady Red Riders rode the power of 31 forced turnovers, a poor showing at the charity stripe (8-for-21) by the Madonna Lady Blue Dons, along with a late run to bring home a 49-46 win and the Weirton City Championship Trophy sponsored by the Weirton Boys and Girls Club.
"This is the first time in four years since we won it," said Weir head coach Bill Smith of the city championship. "The last time we won it was 2008 and they've won it every time since. It's a good feeling.
CITY CHAMPIONS — The Weir High girls basketball team claimed the city championship and the trophy from the Boys and Girls Club of Weirton, presented by Madonna boys basketball coach George Vargo, with a 49-46 victory over Weirton Madonna Thursday at the Bill Barrett Gymnasium. It was the first win for the Red Riders since 2008.
"A great feeling because you get bragging rights for one year. It's a team effort. We had kids in foul trouble. We had kids come off the bench that gave me some quality time.
"We were able to play some quality defense in the second half.
"We forced some turnovers, got out and run, and hit some layups."
Weir 49, Madonna 46
Weir 15 6 15 13 - 49
Madonna 9 16 13 8 - 46
WEIR: R. Young 5 2-2 12, Stead 3 1-4 7, Shingle 4 0-0 9, T. Young 1 0-0 2, Robinson 0 0-0 0, Lemly 2 0-0 4, Burns 5 3-5 13, Dalrymple 1 0-0 2. 21 6-11 49. 3-pointers: Shingle. Rebounds: 33 (Burns 12, R. Young 7). Turnovers: 22.
MADONNA: Dowiak 1 0-4 2, Mascio 1 0-0 2, Rosso 0 1-2 1, Sellitti 4 0-3 10, Davis 1 2-4 4, Bragg 9 5-8 25, Grubbs 0 0-0 0, Lammers 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 17 8-21 46. 3-pointers: Sellitti (2), Bragg (2). Rebounds: 40 (Bragg 12, Sellitti 10). Turnovers: 31.
Added Madonna head coach Don Ogden, "It's real obvious their pressure, and our inability to capitalize on foul shooting hurt us. I think we were 8-for-21, and we had 31 turnovers. To their credit they came out with intensity and we weren't able to handle it.
"Out-played, out-coached so congratulations to Weir High. It was a great game, but unfortunately we were on the down side."
About midway through the third quarter, and trailing 34-23, Weir began their climb to the city title with a 13-4 run to end the stanza. The Lady Riders' Raven Young tied the game on two occasions - 34-all and 36-all - late in the quarter, but a Cameron Dowiak bucket gave Madonna the lead heading into the final frame.
"They don't quit," said Smith of his team. "It was just a matter of us playing better defense, getting in good defensive position, rebounding some, getting the ball out, and running.
"We're good when we're running. I was proud of the way we came back and played good defense."
The teams exchanged points until, with the score tied 42-42, Amy Davis knocked down a foul shot to give the Lady Dons a 43-42 lead. It was the last points Madonna scored until 7.4 seconds left in the game.
Weir ran off seven straight points beginning with a Shelva Burns basket to make the score 44-43 Lady Riders. An Alyssa Shingle basket, a Burns free throw, and a Madison Dalrymple put back off an offensive rebound pushed the lead out to 49-43.
Monica Bragg knocked down a trey to make the score 49-46 at the 0:07.4 mark, but Madonna only had three team fouls at the time, and the clock ran out as they fouled down the stretch.
Weir jumped out to a 15-9 lead after one quarter followed by a 16-6 Madonna advantage in the second that put the halftime score at 25-21 Lady Dons.
The Lady Red Riders, who shot 21-for-63 from the field, were led by Burns' double-double of 13 points and 12 boards. Young was strong in support with 12 points and seven rebounds. Weir pulled down 33 boards, turned the ball over 22 times, and went 6-for-11 at the foul line.
"She brings leadership," said Smith of Burns. "Like it or not she's a senior citizen like me. She's a senior citizen here, and I yell at her a lot, but I expect her do do a lot of things as well to help these other kids out."
Bragg scored a game-high 25 points for Madonna and matched Burns with 12 rebounds. Nicolette Sellitti added a double-double of her won with 10 points and 10 boards. The Lady Blue Dons snagged 40 rebounds and shot 17-of-49 from the field.
"That is a bright spot, but you can't rely on one girl," said Ogden of Bragg's performance. "Fatigue sets in, people over play her, and when we don't have an answer it's hard for her to produce because there's nobody to compliment her.
"That's my fault, and that's something we have to work on."
Weir is off until Tuesday when it travels to Magnolia while Madonna is on the court Saturday when it hosts St. John Central in a varsity only game starting at 1 p.m.