Western Tech girls basketball rolls past Lansdowne in playoff opener

Western Tech tuned up for another run to the state tournament’s final four with a 66-28 victory over visiting Lansdowne on Friday in the first round of the Class 2A North Region playoffs.

The victory propelled the fourth-seeded Wolverines (14-7) to the second round of the tournament against top-seeded Carver Vo Tech on Tuesday.

A win could put Western Tech in a semifinal against second-seeded Dunbar.

The Wolverines defeated the Lady Poets in the Class 1A state championship game last year and lost to them in the Class 1A state finals in 2012.

Both teams moved up to Class 2A this year.

Against Lansdowne (5-14), the Wolverines pressed all over the floor and forced 20 first-half turnovers, while building a 30-11 halftime lead.

Deja Dennis (8 points) had five of her eight steals in the first quarter and Sheena McKnight (12 points) had four of her five steals and eight of her 12 points in the first half.

McKnight, a senior who missed last year’s state title run because of a knee injury, reflected on the first game with Lansdowne during the regular season when the Wolverines started slow and only led 18-11 at halftime.

“We learned if we let them get momentum they were going to keep scoring and it was going to be harder for us to come back, so this time we jumped out with our own momentum and pressed.” McKnight said.

Lansdowne only attempted three field goals in the first quarter when they trailed 16-4.

Viking sophomore Kamya Renwicks (team-high 13 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists. 3 steals) had six points in the first half and Darienne Happel (7 points, 5 rebounds) added three, but they still trailed by 19 at the break.

They also lost freshman ball handler Shabrea Ellison to a hip injury late in the first period and she didn’t return until the second half.

“Some teams will stand back and play defense, this team gets in your shorts and plays you 94 feet and my girls just don’t do well with that, because as good as Shabrea and Kamya are, we don’t see that all the time.” said Lansdowne coach Erin Fortney, whose squad committed just seven turnovers in the second half.

Renwicsks played Western Tech’s top scorer Sydney Clopton (10 points) in a box-and-one defense in the first half and the senior didn’t score in the opening quarter, but when Clopton buried a pair of treys in the second quarter, it opened up the offense.

Despite spirited play inside in the second half from Viking junior MIranda Tyler (4 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocked shots) they got within 17 points of the Wolverines twice in the third quarter, but that was the closest they came.

Ebonee Dixon scored eight of her game high 14 points and Ashley Gourdine added six of her eight in the second half.

Freshman Elysia Turner came off the bench and scored four points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Western Tech in the second half.

“We are working on working together,” coach Nolan Roe said. “When we do that we are successful. When we try to do too much as individuals, whether that be slacking on defense, or bad shots on offense, that is when we struggle.”

They didn’t struggle much at all against the Vikings, who will graduate seniors Happel and Miranda Ritter.

“We could be pretty solid next year,” Fortney said. “We came a long way. I’m proud of these girls. I never felt like they quit and never thought they gave up.”

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