By Dave Morrison
NEW RICHMOND – The proverbial light has come on for Wyoming East and that is bad news for the rest of Region 3.
Everything has seemingly clicked for the Lady Warriors, written off early in the season and practically buried after a three-game losing streak in late December.
But Thursday’s 65-45 victory against Bluefield showed the Lady Warriors are back, coming on the heels of a victory against PikeView, one of the top teams in the region.
Everything has fallen into place since a win over county rival Westside in the New River CTC tournament on Jan. 4.
The return from injury of floor general Skylar Davidson. The 3-point shooting of Hannah Blankenship. The inside presence of Daisha Summers and Sarah Saunders. The hustle and shooting of freshman Abby Russell.
It was all on display Thursday.
“This team really hasn’t played together much,” coach Angie Boninsegna said. “This is about the seventh or eighth game they are playing together so they feel more comfortable with what they are doing.”
“Our chemistry has gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year,” Davidson said. “We really work together well now. I think just playing together got us in that momentum. We have really relied on each other in the last few games.”
The Warriors have no seniors, starting two juniors (Davidson and Saunders), two sophomores (Summers and Blankenship) and a freshman (Russell).
Wednesday night’s victory was the foreshadowing of a team coming together.
The Lady Warriors shot the ball well, hitting 26 of 48 field goals (54.2 percent) , including 10 of 17 from 3-point range (58.8 percent).
Davidson led the way with 18 points and 13 assists. The junior point guard, the only starter back from last year’s Class AA state runner-up team, has had four points/assists double doubles in the last five games.
Davidson has been a key since returning from an ankle injury against Westside at the start of the current win streak.
“During my rehab with the ankle injury I really worked on my jump shot and kinda got that killer mentality coming back out,” Davidson said. “Just learning that I have to play meaner than everybody else has helped on the points side.”
Blankenship was 4 of 6 from 3 point range and she had 14 points in the win. Over the five game win streak she has hit 22 of 34 3-point shots.
She credits Davidson’s return with her hot shooting steak.
“It’s really helped with Skylar being back because she just gets me set up,” Blankenship said. “She knows where I’m at because we’ve played a lot together. She finds me where I need to be. After the Westside game (when she was 6 for 6 from beyond the arc) my confidence just started building up and I just keep shooting.”
Russell also had four 3s on 4 of 6 shooting and Davidson added two more (2 for 4).
It’s that shooting ability that impressed Bluefield coach Ernie Gilliard.
“They are a great team,” Gilliard said. “Angie does a fantastic job with those girls. They’ve got some terrific shooters. We allowed too much space to those shooters and they were able to make shots.”
The game was relatively close early on, but Wyoming East hilt a groove at the start of the second quarter, going on a 9-0 run to take the lead from 16-10 to 25-10. After a 3 by Jaisah Smith, the Warriors went on a 10- run to end the half with a 35-13 lead.
“In the first six minutes we were pretty effective,” Gilliard said. “Then they hit a few shots and we had a few possessions where we didn’t make shots. Their energy level got larger and our energy level wore down. There is no substitute for good shooting. They do a great job shooting the basketball here. They work hard. They play fundamentally sound. My hat is off to Angie and her girl for the job they did.”
Davidson suffered two injuries Thursday, the first an apparent upper leg cramp and the second an ankle injury. She was carried from the floor by her father, a scene eerily reminiscent to the knee injury she suffered in the seventh game of her freshman year. That injury cost her the rest of that season.
“I think that injury scared me more than anything,” Davidson said. “It was one of those where it was a kind of deja vu thing. (A Bluefield player) rolled over on my knee and it kind of moved funny and I heard something. After sitting in here (the locker room) and calming down I was OK.”
Russell added 14 points for the Warriors and Saunders had seven points and seven rebounds.
The Warriors built the lead to 65-36 on a Kayley Bane two. Bluefield ended the game with a 9-0 run.
Jaisah Smith led the way for Bluefield with 19 points.
Davidson said she enjoys the role of underdog, a huge departure from her first two seasons with the Lady Warriors.
“It is a different look on things, but I kind of like being the underdogs, because nobody really expects us to be anything great,” Davidson said. “Once you show them, they are more surprised than anything else. When we were the top dog we had a huge target on our backs and we always got everyone’s best game.”
Wyoming East will host Oak Hill on Monday while Bluefield will host Westside on the same day.
Wyoming East 65, Bluefield 45
Carmen Watkins 1 0-0 2, Summer Brown 0 0-2 0, Brandi Davis 1 0-0 2, Jaumaria Jones 3 0-2 6, Keonna Adkins 2 0-0 5, Jaisah Smith 7 2-3 19, Jaylese Sims 3 2-4 9, Erica Poe 0 0-0 0, Ayonna Helm 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 18 4-11 45.
Wyoming East (8-3)
Daisha Summers 4 0-1 8, Skylar Davidson 7 2-2 18, Abby Russell 5 0-0 14, Colleen Lookabill 0 0-1 0, Bri Cook 0 0-0 0, Torree Lawson 0 0-0 0, Kayley Bane 2 0-0 4, Hannah Blankenship 5 0-0 14, Laken Toler 0 0-0 0, Bria Smith 0 0-0 0, Sarah Saunders 3 1-1 7, Marissa Hood 0 0-0 0, TOTALS: 26 3-5 65
Bluefield 8 5 16 16 – 45
Wyoming East 16 19 13 17 – 65
Three-point goals – B: 5 (Adkins 1, Smith 3, Sims 1), WE: 10 (Davidson 2, Russell 4, Blankenship 4) Rebounds – B: 26 (Helm 6) WE: 28 (Saunders 7) Assists – B: 5 (Smith 4). WE: 21 (Davidson 13). Fouled out – None.