Ahlberg scores 30 in West Branch's victory over Curwensville, 64-31|
Thursday, February 14, 2013
By Rich Murawski ssistant Sports Editor
ALLPORT - The West Branch girls basketball team trailed visiting Curwensville, 10-3, late in the first quarter on Wednesday evening thanks to some cold shooting and a monumental effort on the boards from the Lady Tide.
But Lady Warrior MeLesha Ahlberg took her teammates on her back for the next two quarters, helping turn the 7-point deficit into a double-digit lead by halftime.
Ahlberg poured in a career-high 30 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and added three steals and two assists to lead West Branch to a 64-31 win over the Lady Tide.
West Branch shot just 3-for-11 in the first quarter and lost the battle on the boards, 16-3, in the frame before Ahlberg cranked up the offense.
She scored five of the Lady Warriors' seven first-quarter points before exploding for 15 in a second quarter that saw the hosts outscore Curwensville, 21-7.
West Branch also took advantage of nine Lady Tide turnovers in the quarter.
"MeLesha got hot," West Branch head coach Dan Socash said. "That's a cure-all. When we start hitting, we can get our press going a little bit. It was our second game in two nights, and we had to get things rolling."
"Ahlberg got hot, and we didn't take very good care of the basketball," Curwensville head coach Rusty McCracken said. "We let their press affect us. They had some steals and some easy baskets.
"But you can't take anything away from Ahlberg. She got hot, and when she's hot there's not much you can do."
Curwensville took the 10-3 lead thanks in large part to Katrina Seaburn's work on the boards. Seaburn ripped down eight of her game-high 14 rebounds in the first quarter, scoring a pair of buckets on putbacks.
"She has that kind of spurt ability," McCracken said. "I don't think people respect her rebounding. She's not a tall girl, but she gets in position, she uses her body well and she does good things.
"She comes up with the basketball out of the pack and we aren't really sure how she does it sometimes. She is towered over most every game, but she finds a way to come out with the basketball."
The Lady Tide also got a 3-pointer from Ciara Strickland and a bucket and a free throw from Becca Johnson to help build the lead.
"They rebounded really well (in the first quarter)," Socash said. "They did a good job. They moved the ball around, and they were beating the press. And I don't think we were ready for it to be as physical as it was."
West Branch pulled to within three of the lead, 10-7, at the end of the quarter and, after a Johnson field goal got an 8-point run from Ahlberg.
Ahlberg drained a pair of 3s in the run and gave West Branch its first lead, 15-14.
"What I liked to see is that she hit from the outside and she was driving," Socash said. "She was mixing it up really nicely. And she had some nice assists as well."
Strickland converted a pair of free throws to give the Lady Tide the lead back briefly before Lady Warrior Missy Croyle connected on 4-of-4 from the line on the next two West Branch possessions to give her squad a 19-17 lead - a lead it never relinquished.
Strickland came up with her third foul not long after that and had to sit the rest of the half, and the Lady Warriors ended on a 9-1 run to take a 28-17 advantage into the break.
"I'm not sure how coincidental it is, but we took Ciara out and Ahlberg got real hot," McCracken said. "I think that was part of it. I thought Ciara played her really tough early. Part of her foul trouble came from helping other people.
"But her foul trouble opened up Ahlberg's game and shut us down a little bit."
After Ahlberg gave the Lady Warriors a 13-point lead early in the second half, Seaburn scored on consecutive trips up the floor to cut the deficit to nine.
But after Seaburn traded buckets with Ahlberg one more time, the Lady Warrior senior drained her fourth 3-pointer of the night to put West Branch on top by double digits once more.
West Branch led, 40-27, after three quarters and then totally dominated the fourth.
The Lady Warriors outscored Curwensville, 24-4, in the final eight minutes of play as they hit 10 of their 17 shots from the floor and won the battle on the boards, 6-4.
In fact, after getting outrebounded by 13 in the first, West Branch had 24 boards over the final three quarters versus just 14 for the Lady Tide.
"We rebounded well," Socash said. "Taylor (Kolesar) and Madison (McCracken) played better guarding Seaburn and (Tiffany) Carter.
"We had to stop that inside game. They weren't hitting their outside shots, but they were killing us inside. Those two were playing tough. They were playing aggressive ... more aggressive than us."
Kolesar scored five points in the final quarter with McCracken adding three. Janene Couteret netted six of her 12 points in the final stanza.
Curwensville connected on just one of its 10 shots in the fourth and turned the ball over six more times to finish with 25 on the night.
"We just didn't do anything in that fourth quarter," McCracken said. "We came out ready to play, but then frustration set in there in the second half and we just couldn't buy a basket. The outcome speaks for itself."
West Branch picked up a total of 14 steals in the game, led by five from Brianne Nye. She had four of those in the first quarter to help keep the Lady Warriors close.
"We take pride in our defense," Socash said. "It creates our offense. We've played really good defense this year. As a coach, I love to see that defensive stance every night."
Seaburn paced the Lady Tide with 13 points, while Strickland scored 11 and had three steals. Heather Thorp added five rebounds and four steals for Curwensville, which dipped to 9-12 overall and 5-3 in the Mo Valley League.
Couteret had seven rebounds for the Lady Warriors, with Kolesar adding five.
West Branch improved to 13-6 overall and finished MVL play with a perfect 8-0 mark.
The Lady Warriors won the jayvee game, 64-25, behind double-digit performances from Taylor Pedmo (22) and Jalee Rockey (15). Shauna Guy scored 12 for the Lady Tide.
West Branch is back in action Friday, playing host to Juniata Valley.
Curwensville plays host to Clearfield tonight.
Thorp 1 0-1 2, Strickland 3 4-4 11, Johnson 2 1-1 5, Carter 0 0-2 0, Seaburn 6 1-2 13, Shope 0 0-3 0, Dugo 0 0-0 0, Dale 0 0-0 0. Totals: 12 6-13 31.
Nye 1 0-0 3, Couteret 6 0-1 12, Ahlberg 12 2-9 30, McCracken 1 1-2 3, Kolesar 3 0-0 7, Croyle 1 4-4 6, Miller 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 8-18 64.
Three-pointers: Strickland; Nye, Ahlberg 4, Kolesar.
Score by Quarters
Curwensville 10 7 10 4-31
West Branch 7 1 2 4-64