Riders fall with Stead nursing an injury

WEIRTON — The Weir High girls basketball team, playing without their top scorer, showed how much they have improved since the season began.

They still lost, though, for the second time to East Fairmont by a score of 55-40 yesterday on the Ron (Fritz) Williams Court inside the Carl R. Hamill Fieldhouse.

With Bailey Stead, the lone senior and 1,000-point career scorer, sitting out the final three quarters, the Red Riders hung with the Lady Bees through three quarters but saw the opportunity for victory fade away in the final eight minutes.

“We were in the game about the whole time, and I was really proud of the way the girls played,” said coach Rick Stead, whose daughter is nursing a sore knee. “I told them our big problem continues to be we get in too much of a hurry. We were in the game, but we started playing at their tempo instead of dictating the pace we want to play.

“We did pretty good with our matchup man defense, but we don’t have the depth to do that the whole game, especially with Bailey out. We switched back into a zone defense and crept back into it, but we got down there in the fourth quarter and had to start pressing, and East Fairmont got some transition layups. But, overall, I’m pleased with where we are compared to the 86-44 blowout they put on us back in our second game of the season. It’s the difference between night and day.”

When sophomore Sophia Mikula scored back-to-back deuces with 1:25 left in the third quarter, the Lady Riders were down by two at 33-31. Fairmont, however, finished the third period with four straight points and then added eight more to open the final eight minutes to pull away, 45-31.

“We missed a couple of assignments, and I think the girls get so intense when they’re playing man that while they don’t lose the intensity, they get into an up tempo mode. And it forces us into unforced turnovers,” Rick Stead said. “We’re not switching gears and slowing down a little bit on offense to get the tempo more to our liking. Actually, we were doing better until the end of the game.”

Weir High had 22 turnovers, including eight in the fourth quarter.

“Some of those late turnovers were unforced,” Rick Stead said. “Fairmont stepped in front of some weak passes, and we dropped the ball, we fumbled it and bounced it off our foot. You have to chalk it up to inexperience. Bailey is our only senior, so at the end of the game we had two juniors, and the rest are sophomores and freshmen. They all did a fantastic job and played hard. The goal is to just improving, and I think we are.”

The Bees outscored the Riders 18-9 in the fourth quarter to put the game away.

Bailey Stead had a brace on her knee and tested it in the first quarter, moving well enough to score four points, but she had to sit out the rest of the game. X-rays of the knee came out negative, but doctors have scheduled an MRA later this week for good measure.

With (Bailey) Stead out, Mikula stepped up and had the second double-double of her career. She led all scorers in the game with 24 points and cleared the glass with 10 rebounds, half of them off the offensive board. Mikula also recorded a double-double in the season opener against Oak Glen.

Freshman Leah Maley,backed her up with eight points and six boards. The Red Riders led the rebounding statistic by a wide margin, 38-20, including 12 offensive rebounds.

“Talk about someone stepping up, Sophia was there,” Stead said. “She had a double-double. That’s over half of our point production right there.

“The future looks bright. We graduate one senior, so we’ll have all these kids back next year and beyond. As long as we can keep getting more kids in the program and keep kids interested in playing basketball, we’re reaching that goal of improvement every day. We want to strengthen our girls basketball program in the middle school and even reach out to the elementary school kids.”

The Riders had a lot of trouble inside with Summer Stover, who was the high scorer for the Bees with 22 points and pulled down six rebounds. She scored 19 points when the two teams met in Fairmont on Nov. 30. Kierra Bartholou scored 10 points and led the Bees with seven rebounds.

The Red Riders, now 7-12, play an OVAC consolation game Monday against Beaver Local at home with a jayvee start at 6 p.m.

Game notes:

¯ The Bees made it a clean sweep with a 47-18 jayvee game win. Kylie Lopez scored 17 for East Fairmont, while Casey Yacos led the Weir reserves with six.

East Fairmont 55, Weir High 40

East Fairmont 9-19-9-18 — 55

Weir High 8-14-9-9 — 40

EAST FAIRMONT (7-9): Casuccio 1 0-0 2; Lindsey 1 3-3 5; Corley 2 2-4 6; Bartholou 4 0-0 10; Stover 9 4-7 22; Meighan 3 0-0 8; Tennant 1 0-1 2. TOTALS: 21 9-15 55. 3-POINT GOALS: 4 (Bartholou 2, Meighan 2); Rebounds: 20 (Bartholou 7); TURNOVERS: 10.

WEIR HIGH (7-12); Mikula 10 4-5 24; Fuscardo 0-2 0; Aperfine 2 0-1 4; Maley 1 6-10 8; Stead 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 15 10-18 40. Rebounds: 38 (Mikula 10): TURNOVERS: 21.