By Dave Morrison

NEW RICHMOND – Nicholas County coach Tom McGirl saw the signs before the ball was even tipped in their game against No. 2 Wyoming East. Friday night.

Class AA runner-up Wyoming East got 23 points from Skylar Davidson and 18 from Jazz Blankenship in a season-opening 79-41 victory over the No. 7 Lady Grizzlies.

Skylar Davidson

“I think we were nervous when we walked in here,” McGirl said. “We haven’t been getting great crowds at our gym and we walked in here and there were like 400, 500 people in here and it was like ‘Wow.’ I think our girls were nervous.”

And  a relentless Wyoming East press to get things started did not help things.

The Lady Warriors, led by  Blankenship’s press-induced six first quarter steals, opened up leads of 13-0 and 18-1 before the Grizzlies could catch their breath.

The quick start was exactly what the Warriors wanted.

“We knew they had some good players so we needed to jump on them and we needed to jump on them quick,” Blankenship said. “We came out ready to play. Last week (in a scrimmage) against Greenbrier East we started slow. We started pressing and it got us going.”

Blankenship and Davidson combined to score 41 points and shot a combined 15 for 24 from the floor and 6 of 12 from 3-point range. Davidson had a career-high 23 points on 8-10 shooting (3-4 from 3) and had five steals, and Blankenship added 18 points, nine steals, seven assists and five steals.

Jazz Blankenship

It was more their work on the defensive end, coupled with the imposing presence of Emily Saunders (10 points, five blocked shots) inside that stymied Nicholas County early.

“I thought their guards played tremendous,” McGirl said. “Blankenship, No. 11 (Davidson) and 23 (Kayti Daniels) did a great job for them and Emily (Saunders) is Emily. We worried about that. Anna (Hamilton, who had 15 for Nicholas) does a lot of the scoring and she is able to shrink a defense. Their defense doesn’t shrink because they don’t need to help (on defense inside). They were able to put a lot of pressure on the perimeter and they extended it on us.”

That was the plan.

“Last practice we really worked on our defense because we started really slow against Greenbrier East and (coach) Angie (Boninsegna) kind of jumped on us,” Davidson said.

Wyoming East led 23-6 after the first quarter and 48-17 at the half.

“Our intensity was there off the bat, we had a lot of energy and our press was really effective tonight,” Boninsegna said. “I thought we played really well defensively, we boxed out and rebounded well and that is what we need to do to be effective.”

Saunders added 10 points and controlled the paint with five blacks and twice as many altered shots. She also had four rebounds and four assists.

Kayti Daniels added nine points and nine rebounds and she hit 3 of her 4 3 pointers.

It was the first action for Davidson since tearing her ACL Jan. 11 against Westside in the eighth game of the season. She had 34 points in those eight games.

“I was so excited and my teammates were hyping me up,” Davidson said. “I think that this injury really helped me out physically, mentally and emotionally.”

McGirl was impressed by what he saw.

“I’m giving Wyoming East full credit, but hopefully when we see them a little later in the season we will represent ourselves a little better,” McGirl said. “But that is a daggoned good basket ball team over there.”

Wyoming East had 21 assists on 32 made field goals.

“We shared the ball really well tonight and I was very proud of that,” Boninsegna said.

Hamilton finished with a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Nicholas County and Emily Parker, a 3-point specialist had four 3s and 13 points.

Wyoming East will be at Shady Spring on Wednesday, Dec. 5 while Nicholas County hosts Midland Trail on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Wyoming East 79, Nicholas County 41

Nicholas County (0-1)

Josie Chapman 2-7 0-2 5, Tommie Cole 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Brown 0-5 1-2 1, Olivia Carpenter 2-5 0-0 6, Emily Parker 4-15  1-3 13, Anna Hamilton 5-14 5-7 15, Michaela O’Dell 0-4 1-2 1, Kelsi Foster 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 13-51 8-16 41.

Wyoming East (1-0)

Hannah Blankenship 2-3 0-0 4, Skylar Davidson 8-10 4-4 23, Daisha Summers 2-7 0-2 4, Jazz Blankenship 7-14 1-4 18, Bri Cook 1-1 0-0 3, Emma Lambert 0-1 0-0 0, Kayti Daniels 3-6 0-0 9, Nicole Carte 0-1 0-0 0, Sarah Saunders 0-2 0-0 0, Emily Saunders 5-8 0-0 10, Carissa Daniels 1-4 0-0 2, Brooke Russell 3-4 0-0 6. TOTALS: 32-60 5-8 79

Nicholas County                    6       11        10        14     –    41

Wyoming East                      23      25        18        13     –   79

Three-pointers – NC: 7-29 (Chapman 1-6, Cole 0-1, Brown 0-2, Carpenter 2-5, Parker 4-15). WE: 10-22 (Davidson 3-4, Summers 0-2, Blankenship 3-8, Cook 1-1, Daniels 3-4, Carte 0-1, Daniels 0-1, Russell 0-1). Rebounds – NC: 28 (Hamilton 14), WE: 34 (Daniels 9), Assists  – WE: 15 (Blankenship 7). Fouled out – None.