Western Reserve certainly lived by that mantra on a rare Monday game on the road to defeat the Plymouth Big Red, 55-44, in a victory that clinched the Firelands Conference championship outright.
The 'Riders (15-4, 13-0) struggled hitting their shots for most of the game, but were a nightmare for Plymouth on the glass. Western Reserve scored nearly half of their 55 points on second chance opportunities — in all the 'Riders had 22 offensive rebounds that directly led to 27 points.
McKenna Woodruff led Western Reserve on the glass with 16 rebounds and provided openings for her teammates to score after grabbing an offensive board.
After struggling for much of the season with slow starts, the 'Riders made it a point of emphasis to get off to a faster start against Plymouth. In the first quarter they had no problem accomplishing that goal as they headed into the second quarter with a 13-4 — that lead dissipated quickly when the Big Red heated up in the latter part of the first half and the third quarters.
“We wanted to get off to a faster start tonight and mission accomplished,” Western coach Brenda Friend said. “I thought that we moved the ball well early on and was making our shots.
“After that, maybe when we made substitutions it threw somethings off,” she added. “We didn’t seem to play quite as well and that could have been in the timing of some of my substitutions, but we were not making the same plays that we were earlier in the game. And give credit to Plymouth, I think they fed off how we were playing offensively and made a run where it seemed like they couldn’t miss.”
Emily Blanton led the run for Plymouth (4-16, 2-11) before seeming to tweak a previous knee injury that left her on the floor in pain. Blanton later came back into the game and led Plymouth with 14 points and eight rebounds.
Cora Wyers led Western Reserve with 16 points scoring and added seven rebounds to go along with five blocked shots on defense. She was joined by Jenna Skrada with 10 points to give the 'Riders a pair of scorers in double digits. Perhaps most impressive for Western was that it had nine players place their name in the official scoring books.
“I think that sometimes the girls rely a little too much on Cora to do the scoring,” Friend said. “We saw that a little bit tonight, but then I thought when we subbed in our bench later in the second half we found some things that worked. They actually stretched the lead out and when we went back to the starters the lead shrank a little, so we went back to the bench and let them finish the game out.
“Having a bench that can add to a lead is huge,” she continued. “Especially coming up to the tournament, because there are going to be times we have to rely on them and getting this experience with abbreviated JV games is going to give them the confidence that they can do it later when we need them.”
Blanton scored 14 for the Big Red, with Kelsey Blankenship adding eight and Tristan Wiley scored seven.
WESTERN RESERVE (15-4, 13-0)
Isabella Zvara 1-4–6; Jenna Skrada 4-2–8; Avery Tubbs 1-0–3; Isabelle Duchette 1-2–4; McKenna Woodruff 2-4–; Emma Blankenship 2-0–4; Ellie Blankenship 1-0–2; Emma Weber 1-0–2; Cora Wyers 5-6–16. TOTALS 18-18–55.
PLYMOUTH (4-16, 2-11)
Emily Akers 1-0–2; Morgan Chaffins 1-0–2; Mallory Miller 3-0–6; Kelsey Blankenship 4-0–8; Tristen Wiley 3-1–7; Emily Blanton 5-0–14; Shyan Gale 2-0–5. TOTALS 19-1–44.
Western 13 11 13 18 — 55
Plymouth 4 15 13 12 — 44
3-point FGs: (WR) Tubbs; (P) Blanton 4, Gale.
JV: W. Reserve, 29-10