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West girls top East, stay on top of conference

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By Todd Martin

East Middle School's girls a hot hand, but West’s defense stole the show and the basketball game Monday, 48-26.

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East’s Jordan Webb led all scorers with 16 points, but West put on a run just before halftime to break open what had been a pretty close game.

The Lady Warriors turned up their defensive pressure, forcing several turnovers during the final three minutes of the first half.

“I think that gave us some life and maybe got them down a little,” West Coach Dana Smith said. “We started the game out in a zone press to stay away from fouls, but in the second quarter we went back to our man-to-man deny press and I think that changed things.”

Smith said the team’s defense is what makes the Lady Warriors go.

“Defense is a big part of our game, and the girls did a good job getting their hands on the ball and getting out in transition. We had 17 deflections and 18 steals in the game.”

That spurt at the end of the first half boosted a four-point lead to 11, 26-15, at halftime.

“I thought our girls hung in there and played hard,” East Coach Ryan Booth said. “At the end of the half we had a breakdown with our press break, and some people were in the wrong places. That’s something we’ve struggled with this year, and we had about eight or nine turnovers in that stretch.”

West’s lead continued to grow as the defense continued to clamp down on East, allowing just 11 second-half points. However, Smith said the team’s offense struggled.

“Their [East’s] defense kind of slacked back on us, and I thought we had a little trouble against that,” he said. “But our defense got a lot of back-tips and forced turnovers, that’s really how we won.”

K’sha Stoner led West with 13 points, Lindsay Ketchum chipped in nine, and Skylar Clemens and Sydney Cloyd each added eight.

Smith said he was glad to see the Lady Warrior’s show some balance on offense.

“That’s something we’ve worked on,” he said. “We want to get some balance on offense, so teams can’t just key on one or two players to shut us down.”

Webb led the Lady Missiles, but Booth said he was pretty pleased with his team’s play.

“She [Jordan] is a really nice player, with a great shot,” he said. “We want to keep the ball in her hands because she’s our primary ballhandler, and she can create her own shot.

“But really I thought our whole team played well. Emma Durham came off the bench and hit a couple clutch shots for us, Deja Roberts had a good defensive game, and Alex Skellie and Kyndle Pace both played well, too.”

The victory moved West to 16-1 on the season, and the Lady Warriors are in control of the Mid-Bluegrass Conference.

“I think we have a pretty good shot,” Smith said. “If we can hold on and win the regular season, then we get a bye in the tournament, and that’s what you’re playing for.”

The loss dropped East to 2-12 on the year, but Booth said he’s seeing improvement.

“We’re building toward a successful season,” he said. “West is a tough team to play, but I’m continuing to see improvement from our team each week.”