Ford City girls lean on defense to defeat West Shamokin
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The chess match in Thursday night's Section 1-AA girls basketball game between host Ford City and West Shamokin centered on the visitor's 6-foot-1 leading scorer, Jill Glover, who entered the game averaging more than 16 points.
Ford City intended to force the rest of the Wolves to score the points. West Shamokin, familiar with the tactic, devised ways to use Glover as an initiator rather than a finisher.
By the end of the first quarter, the Sabers already had moved their opponents into check.
An 11-point run that stretched more than six minutes allowed Ford City (8-5, 4-2) to establish a comfortable lead in its 39-29 victory over the Wolves (7-8, 2-4).
West Shamokin, which managed just one point in the first quarter, never reduced the deficit to less than seven points during the rest of the contest.
“We respect (Glover), and we were pulling someone off (to double her),” Ford City coach Al Davis said. “They made some adjustments, and they tried to get the 3s from I think (Tristan) Cribbs, and then we adjusted to that. ... Jill still got her points, but we kept her under control.”
Guard Kelly Clowser made a free throw 35 seconds into the game to give West Shamokin its only lead.
But she, like the rest of the Wolves who were slated to ease the scoring burden placed on Glover, struggled to beat Ford City's man-to-man half-court pressure.
Clowser did not score again. Lizzy Cornish had four points, all of them at the foul line. Elle Gandolfi scored on a putback and a backside layup to finish with five points, the second-best total among West Shamokin's players.
Glover led the Wolves with 15 points, 12 of which came in the second half.
West Shamokin coach Judd McCullough tried to get his girls to work inside-out, with Glover getting the ball in the post and then dishing it out to open perimeter shooters. But the Wolves were ice-cold from outside — they missed all 14 attempts from beyond the arc.
“In the beginning, we forced the ball into Jill a little bit, maybe too much,” West Shamokin McCullough said.
“They did an outstanding job of doubling her. We worked in practice yesterday realizing they were going to double, and we tried to put people in spots that'd maybe utilize that. And when we got those opportunities, we just weren't hitting the shots.”
Ford City finished with its lowest point total in seven games; the Sabers are 6-1 in that span. Christina Davis led the way with 15 points, and Allyson Cujas added nine.
Ford City's defense did more than enough, particularly during the first half when West Shamokin made just three field goals, all on putbacks.
“We kind of just wanted to fluster (the ball handlers) so that they couldn't get it into Jill or anyone else playing the post,” said guard Bethany Meyer, who had six points.
Meyer understood West Shamokin's get-the-ball-to-Glover approach as well as any of the Sabers. A season ago, the two were teammates at Elderton.
“It kind of feels really weird,” Meyer said of playing former teammates. “I like it, but I don't like it. It's kind of mixed feelings.”
Those feelings were most complicated when Ford City appeared ready to bury West Shamokin late in the first quarter.
“It kind of threw us off a little bit,” Meyer said. “We were like, ‘What's going on? They're not shooting and scoring. Is this going to be a runaway game?' But then they kind of came back on us.”
Ford City's win gave the Sabers a two-game lead over West Shamokin and Apollo-Ridge for third place in the section. West Shamokin has the head-to-head edge over Apollo-Ridge for fourth.
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @BWest_Trib.
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