Lady Vikings top Lady Tornado 52-45 in opener

Mineral Daily News-Tribune
Kaili Crowl (30) led Keyser with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Tornado in a 52-45 loss to Petersburg Thursday night.
Maddy Broadwater (2) contributed nine points for Keyser against Petersburg.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondoent

KEYSER - For the first time in awhile Keyser and Petersburg met on the hardwood in girls’ basketball not as sectional rivals, just as rivals in the neighborly sense.

With the new four-class basketball setup, Petersburg remained a class AA school for basketball while Keyser was elevated to the AAA classification, again, for basketball only.

That didn’t dampen the competitive spirit, however, as the two teams did battle for 32 minutes Thursday night with Petersburg surviving a late surge from the Black and Gold to hold on for a seven-point, 52-45 victory.

For the Lady Tornado, who dug themselves into a hole early, a tremendous effort in the fourth period to claw back into contention fell just a little short, but demonstrated their improved capabilities and potential.

For both Keyser and Petersburg, the product on the court this year is essentially last year’s version, just a year older and more experienced. Petersburg won both games last year by 15 points. In Thursday night’s effort, Keyser cut last year’s deficit by more than half to seven points, all that with a sluggish start.

Petersburg jumped out to an early 12-5 lead at the conclusion of the first period. In the second period, offensive production from Keyser jumped considerably, from five points in the first to 17 points in the second.  Unfortunately for the Golden Tornado, Petersburg countered Keyser’s 17 points in the third frame with 19 of their own to take a 31-22 lead into halftime. Keyser had trimmed the deficit to only six points (28-22) before the Lady Vikings hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to capture that 31-22 halftime advantage.

In the third stanza, Keyser reverted to the same sluggish offensive performance it experienced in the opening period, scoring only five points. Petersburg countered with 11 points to take a 15-point, 42-27 lead entering the fourth and final period.

Keyser opened that final frame with a tremendous surge, and in the blink of an eye, after a 9-0 run, the Lady Tornado trimmed the Petersburg lead to six points, and just like that, the two teams were engaged in a dogfight down the stretch. In the end, however, despite the inspired play from host Keyser and the late surge, Petersburg held on to claim the 52-45 victory.

“It was a slow start, I was hoping to start out a lot faster than that.  We were a little passive on offense, but we picked it up as the game went on. But, the slow start put us kind of behind, it was 7-0, we called a timeout and got a couple baskets, but we’ve got to get going a little faster, attacking the rim and taking care of the ball, we’ve been preaching that since day one, we’ve got to take better care of the basketball,” Keyser coach Josh Blowe stated.

While Blowe was disappointed in the slow start, his impression of his team’s performance in the later stages of the game, particularly the fourth period, was drastically different. Blowe liked what he saw in terms of effort in his team’s late surge.

“Oh yes, we played well, but we were in such a big hole that it’s hard to come back down 15. We had it down to four, or was it six, it was down to a two-possession game and we were feeling good, we had the ball back, then we tried to throw it inside, and it was a bad angle, a turnover, and they went down and made a layup and we never got closer than that,” Blowe explained.

So, what was the difference between the sluggish start and the tremendous effort and surge of the fourth period?

“One, we were being aggressive. You saw in the first half we were being very passive in our offense, for whatever reason. We’ve been preaching it every day, but it finally started clicking, we started to get some cutters, getting some drives, getting to the line. We had a couple steals on our pressure, we sped them up a little bit, they were taking some quick shots,” Blowe detailed.

According to Blowe, “But in the end, it just wasn’t enough, like I said, you dig that hole, you’re not coming back from that hole.  When I look back at it, we shot 11 for 22 from the line, and we have 24 turnovers and you lose by seven to a really quality team.  There are no moral victories, but if you would have told me that before the game, I would have said we lose by 20 with those stats.”

“It’s a game that I think we’re going to look back at the end of the year, and say, man, I wish we could have had that one back.  We’ve got a good team here, I just hope, from now on, that we don’t wait six or seven minutes to get into the flow of the game,” Blowe stated.

The Lady Vikings employed a balanced offensive attack all night.  Petersburg was led in double figures in the victory by Jenna Burgess with 11 points and McKenzie Kitzmiller with 10 points.  Close behind, however, was Kym Minnich with nine points, and Kayla Lantz and Mickala Taylor with eight points apiece. In addition, Carly Turner added four points and Kennedy Kaposy two points.

In the loss, the Lady Tornado was led by senior Kaili Crowl who led all scorers with an impressive 15 points, 13 rebounds, a double-double.  After Crowl, Maddy Broadwater contributed nine points and eight rebounds, just shy of a double-double. Alexa Shoemaker added six points, Averi Everline five points, Maddie Harvey and Rebekah Biser three points apiece, and Summer Reid and Aly Smith two points apiece.

Petersburg won the junior varsity contest.

Keyser next hosted Berkeley Springs in a varsity only contest on Friday night.