West Shamokin girls squeak past Apollo-Ridge in section opener
West Shamokin led the whole way Thursday night against Apollo-Ridge, but the lead rarely was comfortable.
The Wolves made just enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the visiting Vikings, 40-38, in the Section 1-AA opener for both.
Tristan Cribbs and Lizzy Cornish scored 11 points each for the Wolves (3-3, 1-0), who had a 12-point halftime lead cut to a single point in the final minute.
West Shamokin was 12 for 24 at the foul line, the majority coming in a 7-for-16 mark in the fourth quarter.
“We have been shooting poorly from the foul line, and I think we can continue to get better,” West Shamokin coach Judd McCullough. “But our girls played hard today, and all it took was that one extra free throw at the end.”
Ashley Emminger's inside score for Apollo-Ridge (5-1, 0-1) made it 39-38, and the Vikings fouled the Wolves' Kelsey Altman with 15.3 seconds left in the game. Altman made 1 of 2 attempts to give the Vikings a chance to tie or win.
Apollo-Ridge started the final play with the ball in the hands of Julia Demeno, who led the Vikings with eight points and a game-high five assists. The Vikings worked the ball outside and tried to force it inside to Emminger, but a tipped pass led to a scramble for the loose ball.
Altman was the first player to the floor, and her hustle resulted in a cut on her chin when a pair of players landed on top of her. On the floor, Altman was able to knock the ball toward Cribbs, who ran off the final seconds.
“We were trying to get something going to the bucket, but we made another bad decision,” Apollo-Ridge coach Jim Callipare said. “The effort was there for our girls. We've just been making some bad decisions that have cost us buckets, and tonight, it cost us a ballgame.”
Turnovers plagued the Vikings, especially in the first half when West Shamokin pushed out to an 18-4 lead with a 12-0 run. The Wolves finished with 16 steals as Kelly Clowser grabbed six and Cornish took five.
“We wanted to come out athletic, quick and defensive,” McCullough said. “We knew if we could jump out on them early, it would pay dividends for us in the end.
“They whittled (the lead) to six in the second half, and we knew the game was on, but we stayed aggressive while staying disciplined, as well.”
Apollo-Ridge began to cut into the lead by scoring the first six points of the third quarter, but West Shamokin kept the lead at two possessions until the 1:53 mark of the fourth quarter. Claire Broman hit the Vikings' only 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 38-36, which set up the frantic final two minutes.
“Our girls have fight, but we dug ourselves a hole that we shouldn't have,” Callipare said. “We got outplayed early, and it's tough when you go down by 14 that early.”