Weir High headed to sectional championship
Five Red Riders score in double figures during 68-51 win over Wheeling Central
WEIRTON — As soon as seedings for the Class AAA Region 1 Section 1 tournament were announced on April 6, the Weir High girls basketball squad started a new chapter.
The Red Riders, who are the second seed, ended the regular season on a five-game losing streak. They seemingly had nothing going right for them. Plus, they did not want to risk a quarantine session.
Whatever what was said or done during the eight-day layoff worked to perfection.
For the first time all year, Weir High played four outstanding quarters, and five players scored at least 10 points. Third-seeded Wheeling Central had few answers, as the Red Riders clinched a spot in the regional tournament for the first time since 2010 with a 68-51 victory on Tuesday.
“I’ll be honest, we got back to some basics,” Weir High head coach Rick Stead said. “We did some shooting drills, ball handling, closeouts, defensive transitions — all of the things we would do during the regular season during practices we didn’t have with a shortened season. We took advantage of the time.
“They looked like they did at the beginning of the season. They looked fresh, and it’s tough playing with a limited number of kids with an NBA-like schedule. We shot the ball much better (Tuesday).”
The sectional win also marked the third time the Red Riders (6-9) bested the Maroon Knights (6-9) this year. Nobody knew for sure, but they believe this is the first time that has ever happened.
“This has proven to be a great matchup for us this season. Never in a million years would I have imagined sitting here this time of the season saying we just defeated Wheeling Central three times in the same year. That’s a huge step forward for our program,” Stead said.
As soon as the game began, Weir High had the fire and passion just like it did during its season opener against Wheeling Central. It led, 17-9, after one quarter and 29-19 at halftime, though the Knights ended the second frame on an 8-2 scoring run.
Midway through the third, the Red Riders were clinging to a 39-30 advantage before bolting on a 10-2 run for a 49-32 lead to start the fourth. During that jolt, Olivia Baker, who was filling in for Leah Maley due to foul trouble, scored six points.
Weir High’s largest lead in the final stanza was 22. Each team scored 19 points.
“I think Weir High’s a really good team. We played two games last week, and both times I finished with five kids,” Wheeling Central head coach Roberta Olejasz said. “We’ve had some illness problems. This is the first game we’ve had in a while with our full team. I think our issue was rust and more so than a bad matchup. If we had more than one practice together, maybe we would’ve been more ready.”
Leading Weir High was Maley with another double-double, consisting of 11 points and 12 rebounds (nine and nine in the first half). Sophia Aperfine led all scorers with 14 points, while grabbing five rebounds and dishing out two assists. Isabella Aperfine produced 13 points, eight boards and five assists. Reagan Hoover had seven points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Taylor Nutter just missed a double-double with 13 points and eight boards. Baker added 10 points and four rebounds.
“I told them after the game that they can be as good as they want to be,” Stead said. “We faltered a little bit late in the season, but they played (Tuesday) like they’re capable of playing. Moving forward, hopefully we continue to do that.
“Reagan got hurt at Oak Glen. Leah’s had a nagging shoulder issue. We got a chance to get them some rest and get treatments from our trainers.”
Overall, the Red Riders grabbed 19 more rebounds (48-29) and finished 15 for 22 from the free-throw line. Wheeling Central was just 3 for 8.
Individually for the Knights, Marisa Horan led with 13 points, three rebounds and three assists. Alexis Mills tallied six points and 11 boards. Tristen White had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Tuesday marked the final game for those three seniors.
“It was such a privilege to coach those three,” Olejasz said. “They were here when I started coaching. It was a transition period for them, as well as me.
“Marisa stepped up and did everything. She captained this team, ran the point well and did everything I asked of her. Tristen became a force in the paint. Alexis averaged like 14 rebounds a game by the end of the year. It was unbelievable what she could do.”
Weir High: Tentatively travels to No. 1 North Marion Friday for the sectional championship. North Marion eliminated Oak Glen, 82-59, on Tuesday.
Weir High 68, Wheeling Central 51
Central 9 10 13 19 — 51
Weir High 17 12 20 19 — 68
WHEELING CENTRAL (6-9): Horan 5 2-3 13; Mills 3 0-4 6; Vogrin 1 0-0 3; White 5 1-1 11; Olejasz 2 0-0 5; Canestraro 3 0-0 6; Smith 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 2, 3-8: 51.
WEIR HIGH (6-9): Hoover 3 1-2 7; I. Aperfine 6 0-0 13; S. Aperfine 4 3-4 14; Maley 3 5-8 11; Nutter 4 5-6 13; Baker 4 1-2 10; Kaufman 0 0-0 0; Drobish 0 0-0 0; Mastrantoni 0 0-0 0; Palavis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 24, 15-22: 68.
3-POINT GOALS: Wheeling Central (Horan, Vogrin, Olejasz, Canestraro); Weir High 5 (I. Aperfine, S. Aperfine 3, Baker). REBOUNDS: Wheeling Central 29 (Mills 11); Weir High 48 (Maley 12, Hoover 10). ASSISTS: Wheeling Central 12 (Horan 3, White 3); Weir High 14 (I. Aperfine 5). TURNOVERS: Wheeling Central 15; Weir High 17.