Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
OAK HILL — West isn’t at full health yet. In fact, the Senators aren’t near that level.
But in their first six games, it hasn’t mattered one bit.
After a 56-37 win at Oak Hill on Monday, West is six-for-six this season. As if they need an extra boost, just imagine how good the Senators will be when they’re back at full strength.
Scary good is the answer.
“I think our girls are just playing super hard and we’re very unselfish with the ball,” West coach Megan Artrip said. “We’re passing it six or seven times around before someone takes a shot. And everybody just wants to make sure we’re getting coverage on defense, getting deflections and steals, which lead to lay-ups on the other end.”
Monday’s win was powered by both Maelynn Howell and Lexi Deaver, who have played phenomenally throughout the team’s first six games.
That duo combined for 27 points, 15 rebounds and four assists.
“Maelynn is huge for us every night,” Artrip said. “She runs the floor extremely well and then she has the moves down low to finish. We try to get her the ball but we don’t have to get her the ball. That’s the luxury we have. [Deaver] just controls the floor. She puts people in their positions, she passes the ball up, and she’s never selfish. She’s ended up in double-digit scoring figures herself every night. I’m happy for her. What a reward. Not only the assists, but the points follow.”
While Howell and Deaver were the forefront of the Senators’ attack, West (6-0, 4-0 SOC II) also had several other key contributors step up to the plate — including but not limited to Eden Cline, Emma Sayre and Keima Bennett.
Balance has been a focal point to this point. The Senators have it and they use it wisely.
“We’ve had six girls in double figures this year,” Artrip said. “That balance is just super fun. It’s fun in practice and it’s fun in games. I think it makes us hard to prepare for. We did things very well tonight and we controlled our fouls. It was just nice to see different girls score and some girls actually struggle and still come out with a 20-point win.”
Cline started the scoring with a 3 just 22 seconds into the action. Oak Hill’s Brooke Howard and Chloe Chambers then combined to put the Oaks ahead 9-8 — the team’s first and only lead of the night.
Sayre had an answer for the Senators, burying a 3 with 1:57 left in the first quarter to put West ahead 11-9. Cline followed suit at the 1:31 mark before Bennett finished a quarter-ending 8-0 run, puting the Senators in front 16-9 going into the second.
That 8-0 burst turned into an 11-0 run after Sydney McDermott nailed the front end of two free throws, followed by a bucket from Deaver. Deaver hit a 3 late in the second to stretch the lead to double-digits at 25-13 before Sayre ended the half’s scoring with a runner, sending the Senators into halftime with a 28-13 advantage — the Oaks scored just four points in the second.
“Personally, defense has always been my favorite,” Deaver said. “Scoring isn’t really a big thing for me. Points come from defense, especially because we’re small. We take pride on the side of the ball.”
Oak Hill’s Baylee Howell hit a 3 with 5:37 left in the third, cutting the deficit to 29-18, but Sayre had an answer on the other end. 11 points was as close as the Oaks would get. After Brooke Howard scored to make it a 31-20 tally, West ripped off a 9-0 run behind Bennett ,Maelynn Howell, Abby Adkins and Bennett, taking a 41-20 lead into the final eight minutes.
Not much changed in the fourth. Everytime momentum seemed to shift a bit to Oak Hill’s side, West provided an equalizer. The Senators were on cruise control the rest of the way, eventually putting away their sixth win in six tries.
“This year, I feel like we’re not looking ahead,” Sayre said postgame. “We’ve been taking it practice by practice and game by game. It’s been about how we can improve every game and how we can improve every practice. I think that’s helped a lot.”
Following Deaver’s final stat line was Howell with 13 points and nine rebounds. Sayre added nine points, six boards and three assists, Cline posted seven points and four rebounds, and Bennett finished with five points and four rebounds.
Chambers paced Oak Hill with team-highs of 14 points and nine rebounds while Howell had 11 points, six rebounds and a game-high six assists.
Both teams are back in action on Thursday. Oak Hill travels to Northwest while the Senators host Wheelersburg in an early top-tier conference showdown.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Artrip said. “We have to let our defense lead to points. We’re taking it one game at a time. [Thursday’s game] is no different than any other game on our schedule.”
West: 16-12-13-15 — 56
Oak Hill: 9-4-9-15 — 37
West: 20-61 FG, 9-14 FT, 6-17 3pt., 38 rebounds (Howell 8), 10 turnovers, 12 assists (Sayre 3, Deaver 3). Scoring: Deaver 14, Howell 13, Sayre 9, Cline 7, Bennett 5, Andre 3, McDermott 3, Adkins 2.
Oak Hill: 15-47 FG, 3-5 FT, 4-15 3pt., 25 rebounds (Chambers 9), 20 turnovers, 13 assists (Howell 6). Scoring: Chambers 14, Howell 11, B. Howard 5, J. Howard 3, Gamble 2, Bodey 2.