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Park sparks Tigers in opening-night win

West Liberty-Salem leaned on its veterans to turn away Bellefontaine on the opening night of the prep girls basketball season.


Led by senior Christine Park’s game-high 21 points, the host Tigers ran away for a 46-24 victory Friday in a local non-league contest.

WL-Salem’s three returning varsity players scored 31 of the team’s points. Park did the most damage, hitting four three-pointers to energize the Tigers’ offense.

“Christine did what you would hope a senior would do,” said WL-Salem head coach Dennis McIntosh. “She is our only senior and she really stepped up for us. Christine has really taken charge of our offense.”

Bellefontaine, which started two freshmen, had trouble finding its rhythm. The Chiefs stayed close for a half — WL-Salem led by eight at the break — but Bellefontaine managed only eight points in the second half.

“Our effort was there on defense,” said Bellefontaine head coach Tony Cianciolo. “They shot the ball well and I commend them for that, but I thought our girls played hard defensively. We did a pretty good job on Becka (Peterson) and that was one of our goals.”

Bellefontaine scored the first point of the game, but the Tigers quickly took the lead and never trailed again.

Park nailed three shots from three-point range in the first quarter as the hosts built a 17-7 advantage.

The Chiefs came to life in the second quarter, outscoring the Tigers 9-7 to cut the lead to eight points (24-16) at halftime.

“I thought we got a little tired right before the half,” said McIntosh. “We didn’t make very good decisions offensively and we had some turnovers.”

WL-Salem regained control of the game at the start of the second half. Led by six points from Park, the Tigers began the third quarter on an 8-0 run to increase their cushion to 16 points (32-16).

“Christine made some big plays for us at the start of the second half,” said McIntosh. “She did a lot of good things, both offensively and defensively. Hopefully, the rest of the girls learn from that.”

Bellefontaine was unable to overcome the Tigers’ early flurry in the second half.

“We had quite a few turnovers at the beginning of the second half and that really hurt us,” said Cianciolo. “We threw some bad passes and we gave them some easy points.

“I thought we were able to get some momentum before halftime, but it all went away there at the start of the third quarter.”

The Tigers stretched their lead to 38-20 at the end of the third quarter and they continued to pull away in the final period.

Standout sophomore post player Becka Peterson had eight points for the Tigers, while junior wing player Tyler Lane added seven points.

“Tyler Lane gave us a nice lift,” said McIntosh. “We got a little help from everyone tonight.”

Senior guard Kara Morrison came off the bench to score a team-high 10 points for Bellefontaine. Shayla Rockhold and Whitney Rader each chipped in four points.

In the reserve game, WL-Salem won 39-20. Kelsey Helms led the Tigers with 20 points and Catherine Faulder had six points to lead Bellefontaine.

The Tigers are back in action Saturday at home against Indian Lake, while Bellefontaine returns to the court Tuesday at home against Marysville.

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