CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After a hot start offensively to Thursday’s Class AA semifinal against No. 7 Bridgeport, No. 2 Wyoming East let its defense do the work the rest of the way.
The Warriors poured in 19 first-quarter points and held the Indians to six or fewer points in three of four quarters to claim a 53-31 win that sends them into Friday’s 11:15 a.m. semifinal against No. 3 Wayne.
“Wyoming East’s defense was a lot better than it looked on film,” Bridgeport coach Dennis Hutson said. “Their on-ball defense was tremendous. It’s easy to be really aggressive on the perimeter when you know you have a shot blocker in the paint.”
Hutson was referencing Tennesee signee Emily Saunders, a 6-foot-4 post player who was held to nine points, but had four blocks and four assists.
Skylar Davidson scored five early points to key the Warriors (23-3) to a 9-0 lead, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Brooke Russell and Jazz Blankenship allowed Wyoming East to lead 19-5 after one quarter.
“The first quarter allowed us to get off to a positive start and we really maintained that for most of the game,” Warriors coach Angie Boninsegna said.
The Indians (17-9) picked up their offensive production in the second quarter, getting an early 3 from Emily Riggs, before consecutive triples from Riggs and Rory Marple allowed them to pull to within 23-16 at the 4:22 mark.
“We calmed down a little bit and our defense got better,” Hutson said. “We forced them into some tough shots.”
Bridgeport didn’t make a field goal the remainder of the first half, but was still within 26-19 at halftime.
The game got away from the Tribe in the third quarter, with the Warriors’ Katie Daniels scoring six straight points for her team to make it 36-23.
Wyoming East settled for a 40-25 lead entering the fourth and was ahead by at least 13 over the final eight minutes.
Russell scored her team’s first six points of the final period and Daniels followed with five straight of her own.
“We gave up some layups and got beat on some back cuts for some simple stuff,” Hutson said. “We made some mistakes on helpside and got turned around and gave up some easy ones. They were real fast off the bounce too. For right-handed kids they went to the basket left-handed as well as anybody we’ve played all season.”
The Warriors’ balanced scoring effort was led by Russell’s 17 points on 8-of-10 shooting. Russell also had a team-best eight rebounds.
“I’m always expecting the ball from Emily, because once she’s double-teamed she’s coming to me, because my man is always the one to help off.”
Daniels followed with 11 points, while Saunders and Blankenship scored nine apiece.
“If we can get it to the low post, we have a lot of faith in Emily because she does an excellent job of getting it to the open man outside,” Boninsegna said.
Riggs led BHS with 11 points, while Paige Humble scored 10 points in the loss.
Bridgeport made only 11-of-38 field-goal attempts for 29 percent shooting, while the Warriors made 20-of-41 shots (49 percent).
“We stepped up our defense, especially in the second half,” Boninsegna said. “Overall I was pleased with our effort.”