Girls struggle during season opener

Norv and Mary Coblentz · Wednesday, December 4, 2013
The West Liberty Comets girls' basketball team had their season-opener at home against the Columbus Wildcats Nov. 22. The Comets lost 40-35, discovering some areas that still need some work.

"We shot ourselves in the foot, basically," West Liberty Head Coach Nick Heath said, "We had too long of (scoring) droughts. There's stuff we've got to clean up, and now we know what we have to work on."

Ball control and free throws are two of the problem areas that need work. The team had 23 turnovers and was 3 for 11 from the free throw line.

The team's new point guard, Kayla Kaalberg, who is one of last season's returning starters, was sick for what would have been her debut in the position.

"It would have helped (to have Kaalberg play)," Heath said. "We could have got some more fast break opportunities (with Kaalberg's speed)."

The team was missing a few players to illness, injury and other reasons. "We'll eventually have the depth where we can have a nine- to 10-player rotation," Heath said. The team isn't there yet, and the girls who played got tired.

The tip to start the game went to Columbus, then each team turned the ball over. A Columbus player was fouled on a shot and made both free throws for the first points of the game. Hailey Daufeldt made an inside basket for the Comets to tie the score at 2-2.

After turnovers by both teams, Molly Kelly hit a three-point shot for the Comets, and West Liberty had a 5-2 lead. Columbus hit a jumper then got a steal and a layup to take a 6-5 lead. After more turnovers by both teams, Daufeldt scored a basket on a fast break for a 7-6 West Liberty lead.

The Wildcats fouled, then Cassedi Simon scored on an outside shot for a 9-6 score. Daufeldt grabbed a defensive rebound, but the Comets traveled and the Wildcats scored in the paint. After a West Liberty foul, Columbus scored inside again to take a 10-9 lead.

The Comets turned the ball over, and Columbus scored again. Simon scored a basket. Trailing 12-11, the Comets took a time out with 2:06 left in the first quarter. The score after the first quarter was 14-11, Wildcats.

The second quarter was dismal for both teams. West Liberty scored four points on two baskets, and the Wildcats scored two points, both on free throws. Audra Bridenstine got the Comets’ first basket for a 14-13 score. At the 4:47 mark, the Wildcats made the first of two free throws for a 15-13 Columbus lead. Columbus made the first of two free throws at the 3:14 mark for a 16-13 score. Kelly got a steal and a layup to finish the half's scoring. The Wildcats took a 16-15 lead into the locker room.

"We had a lot of girls put a lot of time in over the summer, and that helps get us jumpstarted a little bit," Columbus Head Coach Casey Keltner said. "You could tell it was both teams' first game, a lot of sloppy play."

It didn't seem possible, but the third quarter was worse yet for West Liberty. Columbus scored six unanswered points on a jumper at the 6:22 mark, a layup at the 4:46 mark, a drive to the basket for a score for a 22-15 Wildcats lead. West Liberty scored on an outside shot by Bridenstine with 2:20 left in the quarter. The Wildcats scored again on a hook shot with 32 seconds on the clock. The score going into the final quarter was 24-17, Columbus.

Each team had their best effort in the fourth quarter, and the Comets outscored the Wildcats 18-16, but it wasn't enough for a win.

The Comets had the ball to start the quarter. A jump ball went to the Wildcats, then Daufeldt got a steal and scored on a short jumper. The Wildcats were fouled and made both free throws.

After a Columbus foul, Katie Meyers scored in the paint for a 26-21 score. Columbus made a quick basket then hit the second of two free throws. The Comets turned the ball over, but Kelly got a defensive rebound then made a three-point shot for a 29-24 score. The Comets took a time out with 5:23 left in the game.

The Wildcats got an offensive rebound then got fouled, but they missed both free throws, and Kelly scored two more points at the 4:50 mark to pull the Comets to within three points at 29-26.

Columbus scored on a putback basket then got a defensive rebound. West Liberty got fouled but missed the free throw, then the Wildcats were fouled and made two free throws for a 33-26 score.

Later on, Daufeldt scored on a layup for a 36-33 score. The Comets took a time out with 37.9 seconds on the clock.

Daufeldt fouled out with 32.8 seconds to go, and Columbus made both free throws for a 38-33 score. Elizabeth Muncy drove to the basket for the Comets and was fouled. She made both free throws with 19.9 seconds to go for a 38-35 tally.

The Wildcats were fouled again with 10.2 seconds on the clock; Columbus made both free throws. The Comets didn't get off another shot, and the final score was 40-35.
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