MEADVILLE – Whether it’s the first time or the fourth, winning District 10 championships never grows old in West Middlesex.
Coach Mike Williams and his Ms. Reds ran away with their fourth straight D-10 gold medal Saturday afternoon with the 76-50 win over Maplewood at Meadville Area High School’s “House of Thrills.”
“I’m excited for the kids,” the veteran coach said. “The ones that have been here for 4 years – and there’s only 2 of them – maybe it’s not as exciting to them because they’ve been here before. But we have kids in (the locker room) crying and hugging. So this is a great moment for our kids and for our community. We’re hoping to make a nice run from here on out.”
West Middlesex won their first district championship in 2016 in Meadville and have no designs on relinquishing their spot at the top of the District 10 mountain any time soon.
“The first one was special and it means a lot to me to win this one here where it all began,” Williams said. “I’m loving where we are right now! The program keeps on going. We have four eighth graders moving up next year and we want to get them medals next year. We’re not stopping at four (District 10 championships).”
The District 10 champion Ms. Reds (22-3) now set their sights on WPIAL sixth-seed Winchester Thurston (11-10), while the Tigers (17-9) draw WPIAL third-seed Bishop Canevin. Both games will be March 8 at a site and time to be determined.
“We’re looking forward to playing Winchester Thurston on Friday,” Williams said. “It’d be great if that game’s at Farrell or Sharon – or we can play at Middlesex if they want! Maplewood is a quality team. They won 17 games and are well-coached, so I couldn’t tell you anything about Winchester Thurston.”
Like they have for the past four years, West Middlesex wasted little time jumping on Maplewood in the first quarter, racing out to a 23-3 lead against Maplewood’s zone.
“We’ve spent some time on the zone offense, getting the ball reversed and knocking down shots, so we can get the big kids involved,” Williams said. “A lot of teams will stay away from the man-to-man against us because of Makennah and the way we run our man offense, but our zone stuff is real solid. I think we can play fast. We can play slow. We can play against the man or we can play against the zone. There’s a lot of things we can do right now.”
During that first-quarter spurt, the Big Red defense clamped down on the Tigers, forcing 7 turnovers and limiting the D-10 runners-up to 10 percent shooting (1-of-10). For the game, Maplewood committed 20 turnovers and knocked down just 32 percent of its shots (18-of-55).
“I was real pleased with how we played,” Williams said. “I thought we dictated pace on the defensive end. We want to play solid defense, run the court and we want to defend. If we do those things, we can be really good.
“Our defensive pressure probably caused that 10 percent in the first quarter. Once we got the lead, we – like players in the NBA – got a little complacent and gave them some open looks. They did make some deep 3’s but we usually don’t come out that far to guard. So some of that is making great shots.”
Makennah White was dominating in the low to intermediate post for West Middlesex, posting game highs in points (24), rebounds (13) and blocks (4), while freshman Emily Anthony lent 19 tallies and 5 boards in her first D10 title game appearance. Taylor Tomko – also making her initial foray into the high school postseason – chipped in 11 points, including back-to-back treys to open the game.
“We missed a lot of shots early, but were able to get rebounds to keep possessions alive,” Williams said. “When were making shots, we’re REALLY good, but I don’t think we shot as well as we did last game. When Taylor hit those 3’s early, I thought we were going to have one of those games where we had 5, 6, 7 3’s. Didn’t happen that way.
“I thought we really ran the court well. The break starts with Emily and finishes with Makennah. The other kids did a nice job of filling lanes and finishing when they had the chance. I’m proud of the kids.”
Notes: WM held a 10-rebound advantage on the glass (43-33) and committed 13 turnovers. … Karsyn Rupert and Emily Drda each have won 4 District 10 basketball gold medals during their careers at West Middlesex. … The Big Reds made just 7-of-22 shots from behind the 3-point line, while the Tigers knocked down 8-of-22. … Jordan Roser led Maplewood with 18 points – including several from way beyond the three-point line – while leading scorer Belle Snyder was limited to just 8 points before fouling out of the game.
District 10 Class 2A Championship
MAPLEWOOD 6 8 19 17 50
MIDDLESEX 25 18 21 16 76
MAPLEWOOD — Snyder 2-3-4-8, Roser 6-1-1-18, Eimer 0-0-0-0, C. Mangus 1-1-2-3, M. Mangus 2-1-2-7, Thomas 3-0-0-6, Palotas 0-0-0-0, Doolittle 0-0-0-0, Moorhead 1-0-0-2, Atkins 3-0-0-6, Kurt 0-0-0-0. 3-pt. goals: Roser 5, M. Mangus 2, Snyder 1. Totals: 18-6-9-50.
WEST MIDDLESEX — White 11-2-6-24, Anthony 6-4-6-19, Mild 2-1-4-6, Tomko 4-0-0-11, Rupert 2-4-6-8, Blaze 0-0-0-0, Jones 0-0-0-0, McGee 0-0-0-0, Beatty 4-0-0-8, Drda 0-0-0-0, Briggs 0-0-0-0. 3-pt goals: Anthony 3, Tomko 3, Mild 1. Totals: 29-11-22-76.