WEST FRANKFORT — After suffering its first loss of the season on Saturday, the Sesser-Valier/Waltonville girls basketball team rebounded with a 62-50 win over West Frankfort on Tuesday at the Mid-Winter Classic.
The Red Devils (19-1) trailed by three points at halftime, but outscored West Frankfort 21-10 in the third quarter.
“When the freshman, Carlie Page, came in I thought (Morgan) Griffith had some problems as far as shooting over her,” said SVW coach Rick Metcalf. “For a freshman to play some big minutes and do a good job, the girls gave her the MVP of the game.”
Griffith still did score 35 points for the Redbirds. She gave West Frankfort a 30-28 lead when she hit a jump shot with 4:48 left in the third period. The Red Devils responded with an 8-0 run.
Hannah Garascia finished off the streak with three straight baskets in the paint. That gave SVW a 36-30 advantage.
Jaylin Haley played very aggressively for SVW and scored 24 points. She also sank 12 shots out of 16 attempts from the charity stripe.
West Frankfort simply couldn’t stop SVW on the fast break.
“We work on that a lot with our transition offense,” Metcalf said. “If you’re hitting the glass you know you can have some simple run outs. We got those tonight.”
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Griffith kept her team in the game, but the Redbirds never could quite catch up.
“We rushed some shots, but we also got to the rim and missed some easy shots,” said West Frankfort coach Matt Hampleman. “It was just an uphill battle. We did everything we could to keep it close, and it was probably more of a five-point game than a 12-point game. But give them credit because they were able to run the floor, and we didn’t do a very good job in transition defense.”
Paige Tucker scored some key baskets to keep the SVW advantage in double digits during the fourth quarter.
“Whenever we play River to River schools, we take those games very seriously,” Metcalf said. “You get a chance to play bigger schools than you, and the competition is very good. That’s why we love this tournament.”
Griffith and Cali Wright combined for a 6-0 run in the second quarter, and West Frankfort held a 14-12 edge. The Redbirds held the lead for most of the second quarter and into halftime.
Wright added 10 points for West Frankfort (11-6). Tucker tallied 13 points for SVW, and Garascia contributed 16 points.
Herrin won the early game, 49-27, over Pinckneyville. The Tigers are the only unbeaten team left in the event, which will finish up on Thursday night.
SVW plays Pinckneyville at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, and West Frankfort battles Herrin around 7 p.m.