WEIRTON - Madonna's girls staged an unbelievable comeback inside the Carl Hamill Fieldhouse Monday to earn a thrilling 40-38 victory over Weir High.
The Lady Riders went up 36-26 with less than four minutes to play thanks a conventional three-point play by Raven Young. From that point forward, it was all Madonna.
Freshman Monica Bragg went three for four from the line to make it 36-29. Another ninth-grader, Isabella Rosso took over from there.
She knocked down not one, not two but three consecutive triples to put Don Ogden's club up 38-36 with 44 ticks left. Her nine points gave Madonna its first lead since the opening stanza.
Young scored again for Weir, this time on a nifty drive to the hoop. When Madonna inbounded the basketball, just 14 seconds remained.
The Lady Dons moved the ball around until it landed in the hands of Nicolette Sellitti. With time expiring, the senior let a jumper fly from the baseline and found nothing but net, sealing the deal and capping a 14-2 Blue Don scoring run.
"What a great game to win," a jubilant Ogden said. "We were down 10 late and I didn't expect this outcome. I was hoping for it, but ... Rosso put in some key shots and we played decent defense on the other end."
Ogden added his squad was running a "2-1-2 offense at the end, moving the girls in the corners up."
"We told Isabella if you are there, get your feet set," he continued. "We told her if you think you can make it, take the shot. We were ready to live or die with her shooting.
"Sellitti nailed that shot at the end. That's what you want your seniors to do, take that key shot. I wouldn't want anyone else taking that shot."
While Rosso and Sellitti were coming up big on the offensive end, the Lady Dons were creating havoc with their trapping zone. The move forced six Weir High turnovers during the final quarter. In addition, the hosts were able to can just two of 11 field goal tries.
"At halftime, we were real reluctant to do any trapping because we were hesitant and passive, getting out of position and opening things up for them," Ogden explained. "Then do-or-die seemed to set in. We got more aggressive and forced them to speed up a little and they started making some mistakes."
Weir could muster just five fourth-period points, all recorded by Young. Madonna, meanwhile, tallied 19, just two less than the Dons scored during the first three stanzas.
Sellitti had a monster game for the winners, scoring 22 points, collecting seven rebounds and blocking three shots. As a team, the Blue Dons collected 25 boards; Bragg topped the team with eight.
"Any time you can get one from coach (Bill) Smith, it's big," Ogden pointed out. "I have a lot of respect for him, his program and the job he does."
The Red Riders scored a 49-46 win over Madonna earlier in the season.
Weir grabbed a 9-7 lead after one, Raegan Stead accounting for seven of the nine markers. The Riders increased their advantage to 22-15 at the intermission. Shelva Burns had a big second quarter, scoring six from the paint. Alyssa Shingle added five.
Sellitti finished the half with 11 of Madonna's 15 points, six coming on rainbow triples.
Smith's crew opened the third with a 6-0 run and held a 33-21 lead going into the final eight minutes.
"There's an old saying that when the going gets tough, the tough get going and the rest just get out of the way," Smith said. "We blew a big lead and we got out of the way tonight. We weren't mentally or physically tough down the stretch. They outplayed us down the stretch and they deserved to win."
Burns paced Weir, now 9-10, in scoring with 12 and hauled down eight of her team's 25 rebounds. Stead finished with nine, Young eight and Shingle seven.
Smith noted the fourth-quarter lapse was the result of "people not responding to certain situations."
"We knew what they were doing and we have things offensively to counteract that," he continued. "To do that, they have to do what we ask them to do and they didn't."
Ogden noted his Dons, who improved to 10-11, made some offensive changes during the game-winning rally.
"We took some of our bigs out and basically went with five guards at the end," he indicated. "We were doing some offensive-defensive substitutions. That's a credit to the girls who would normally be in there at the end.
"They are team players and understood why we did what we did."
Weir will return to action Thursday, hosting Brooke for Senior Night. Madonna will play its OVAC consolation game Wednesday, entertaining Morgantown Trinity. The varsity-only affair will tip at 7 p.m.
Both teams also have their assignments for sectional tournament play. The Lady Dons will host Hundred Saturday in Class A action. Weir will travel to East Fairmont on Monday.
Madonna 40, Weir 38
Madonna 7 8 6 19 - 40
Weir 9 13 11 5 - 38
MADONNA (10-11): Dowiak 0 0-0 0; Mascio 1 0-0 2; Antinone 0 0-0 0; Rosso 3 0-0 9; Sellitti 7 4-6 22; Platek 0 0-0 0; Davis 0 0-0 0; Bragg 1 3-4 5; Lammers 0 0-0 0; Holt 1 0-0 2. TOTALS: 13 7-10 40. 3-pointers: Rosso (3), Sellitti (3); Rebounds: 27 (Bragg 8, Sellitti 7); Turnovers: 24.
WEIR (9-10): Young 3 1-2 8; Stead 4 0-0 9; Shingle 3 0-0 7; Robinson 0 0-0 0; Lemley 0 0-0 0; Burns 6 0-6 12; Dalrymple 0 2-2 2. TOTALS: 16 3-10 38. 3-pointers: Stead, Shingle; Rebounds 25 (Burns 8); Turnovers: 20.