BELOIT - It wasn't West Branch's best game but it was good enough to get the best of Carrollton, as the Lady Warriors in green held off the Lady Warriors in black 59-51in an NBC showdown in Beloit on Tuesday night.
"It was an ugly win, but that's O.K.," West Branch coach Walt DeShields said. "I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty. It wasn't pretty tonight, but I'll take it."
West Branch cruised to a 17-8 advantage after one quarter, but were outscored 15-9 in the second to hold just a 26-23 edge at the half. The hosts pulled ahead 43-32 after three complete - West Branch led by 18 at one point in the quarter - but couldn't maintain the gap. Carrollton slowly did away with the deficit and trailed by just two with 2:14 remaining in the game.
"We came out in that first quarter and did everything we wanted to do against a very athletic Carrollton team," DeShields said. "We made shots and executed on offense, but give Carrollton credit. They came right at us and kept attacking us on the offensive end. In the second half, we didn't shoot real well, and their zone hurt us."
West Branch shot just under 50 percent from the field, making good on 20-of-44 attempts. At the line, the DeShields' Warriors were not much more successful. They made 17-of-30 free throws.
Despite the poor performance at the line, West Branch ultimately won the game from it. In the fourth quarter when Carrollton was nipping at their heels, the Mahoning County Warriors put on a 10-of-18 performance at the charity stripe. The key, according to DeShields, was just drawing the fouls.
"We didn't shoot like we normally do from the line, but the important thing was we got there," he said. "And in that final two minutes, we shot well enough to win the game. We finished it."
Rebekah Zets came up with three points from the line in the closing minute. She finished with a game-high 18 points. Freshman point guard Melinda Trimmer also put in two three throws down the wire. She too notched double digits, scoring 15. Kelsey Loiselle stepped up under the basket in the second half, scoring eight of her nine total points in the third quarter. Her last point was a fourth-quarter foul shot. Pavin Heath added eight points, including two from the line as the game clock ticked down. Niki Carlton had a team-leading seven rebounds.
"Our girls willed this win and they wanted it bad," DeShields said. "I'm happy we got the win tonight. Carrollton did a good job on our floor. They're young, but they are an upcoming team. They have some good players and coach (Craig) Rodgers does a great job there. They beat Louisville at the buzzer and played Marlington tough. They came in here looking for another big win. I'm just glad we didn't give it to them. Each game makes a little but better and we'll be better from this game. They made us work for it."
Carrollton was led by Kelsey Cogan. She was the only Carroll County Warrior to score double digits, registering 10. Monica Starre, Rachel Devine and Taylor Lowermilk chipped in nine apiece. Starre led all rebounders with nine.
Carrollton fell to 4-4 on the season and 2-4 in the NBC.
West Branch is now 6-1 overall and 5-1 in league play. The squad returns to action in non-conference action on Thursday when West Branch renews its old rivalry with Northwest.
"We needed a 20th game because Southeast dropped us and it just so happened we ended up with Northwest," DeShields said. "We have a good, long rivalry with them. Records don't matter. The girls are familiar with each other and we're looking forward to playing them again."
WEST BRANCH: 17 9 17 16 - 59
CARROLLTON: 8 15 9 16 - 51
WEST BRANCH SCORING: Brittany Bryte 0-1-1, Melinda Trimmer 6-3-15, Kelsey Loiselle 4-1-9, Amanda Linhart 1-1-3, Rebekah Zets 5-6-18, Niki Carlton 1-3-5, Pavin Heath 3-2-8. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 17-30, 59.
CARROLLTON SCORING: Liza Kirk 1-1-4, Kesley Cogan 4-2-10, Tessa Sanders 3-2-8, Monica Starre 1-7-9, Rachel Divine 4-1-9, Taylor Lowdermilk 4-0-9, Kelsie Tullis 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 13-19 51.
THREE POINTERS: West Branch 2 (Zets), Carrollton 2 (Kirk, Lowdermilk).