Lady Braves earn win against rival

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By Ryan Naus

While snow fell outside the Grant County gymnasium, the Lady Braves warmed up their fans with a shot-making showcase against rival Williamstown.


The Lady Braves split the season series with Williamstown after coming away with a 53-45 victory.

“It was three nice wins for us,” GCHS coach Darrell Guffey said. “The freshman won, the JV won and the varsity won. We grew up a lot tonight. We gained some game situation experience and it was a nice win for our players. I’m happy for our girls.”

Morgan McClure started the scoring for Grant County with a steal and a layup for the game’s first points. “She’s a freshman!” were the words Williamstown’s players were showered with after bringing the ball back down the court.

Lady Demon Tori Wilhoit answered with a bucket of her own while drawing a foul. After a free throw, the Lady Demons held a 3-2 lead.

Both teams came out looking to take an early advantage, but Williamstown held an early 9-4 lead after Chelsea West and Wilhoit stepped up with several scores. Williamstown attacked the basket early in the game with West and Wilhoit scoring in the paint for each bucket.

Williamstown held a 13-6 lead after the first quarter following scores by Taylor Eldridge and Mellissa Snow, but scores by Lady Braves Shayna Lockard and Tyanna Workman kept Williamstown from extending their lead too far.

Grant County dominated the second quarter, starting with Candace Gorby connecting with Workman on a full-court pass and a layup. Eldridge scored again for Williamstown to make it 15-8, but then Grant County went on a run.

The Lady Braves outscored Williamstown 16-2 in the second quarter, relying on scores by Gorby, Workman, Dawn Plunkett, Lockard and Amber Cope to head into the half ahead 22-15.

West energized the Lady Demons to start the third quarter by drilling a three pointer after a scramble for loose ball and then making a free throw on Williamstown’s next possession to make it 22-19.

Every time Williamstown seemed to be in position to start controlling the game, Grant County would answer with a score of their own. Williamstown cut the lead to 28-25 before Grant County took over, extending their lead to 35-27 at the end of the third quarter after back-to-back baskets by Cope.

In the final quarter, Williamstown again made a run, but never got closer than four points as Grant County made their free throws down the stretch for the 53-45 final.

“There are a lot of positives,” Guffey said. “A lot of players stepped up and played well. Dawn Plunkett’s one who jumps out in my mind. She made shots, made free throws down the stretch and she handled the ball. Erica Stith played well, especially in the second half. We competed. We played hard and for the first time in a while, we had them playing our type of basketball game. I think our depth wore them out a little bit and our depth really shined tonight.”

“I think we played well,” Lockard said. “We have been working our butts off in practice and we really deserve this win. We really wanted it. It’s probably the biggest win of our season. I’m speechless. We executed and stepped up on defense and for once, we hit free throws. I think that this win will give us confidence to keep winning.”

“Dawn stepped up and we had some players that stepped up when they needed to,” Gorby said. “We had some players that usually, under pressure, tend to get nervous, but they really stepped up tonight. It means a lot. We’ve had some losses and you don’t want that. To come out and have our fans, our band and our cheerleaders come out and support us, it’s a big win against our rival and it lights a spark for our games coming up.”

For Williamstown, they are taking the loss in stride and hope to improve on where they came up short against their rival.

“It was a battle,” WHS coach Mark Wilhoit said. “Anytime Williamstown and Grant County play, it’s a battle. I think in the second quarter, the game got a little physical and we backed down a little bit. We didn’t hit free throws and missed some shots. It’s things we’ve got to learn. I think a couple players’ heads weren’t in the game the way they should be. But give Grant County credit. They played us physical and they outplayed us, so they deserved to win. We learned we have to come ready to play for 32 minutes. We have to get smarter as a team also, but that will come.”

“It seemed like sometimes we didn’t play as a team as well as we did the last game,” Tori Wilhoit said. “I feel bad for the seniors, but Grant is playing Simon Kenton in the districts and we’re not.”

The Lady Demons were without senior Jaclyn Stith, who has been out with an ankle injury. Coach Wilhoit hopes to have her back against Walton-Verona on Feb. 6.

In the junior varsity game, Grant County came out ahead 33-18. In the freshmen game, the Lady Braves won 24-20.