Nitro girls improve to 7-0
EAST BANK, W.Va. -- Even the rust of a 17-day layoff caused by weather and water couldn't slow down the groove in which Nitro has started the season.
The Class AAA No. 8 Wildcats (7-0) shook off some early sluggishness and used a 23-3 run spanning from late in the second quarter to early in the fourth and buried host Riverside 60-34 on Tuesday in a game played at East Bank Middle School.
It had been an additional eight days since the Warriors (1-4) last played on Dec. 19, but it was the Wildcats who recovered best behind four double-digit scorers and an inspired effort from its post players, Halie Miller and Tiffany Reavis.
Nitro went a combined 16-53 over the previous three seasons but has stormed out of the gates this year despite having only nine players.
"We might not be the best team in the state but I think as of right now we should be the proudest," coach Will Samuel said. "From where we've came the past few years to where we are now, it's really something to be proud of."
Miller and Reavis played large parts in getting Nitro its seventh win as the two battled with the Riverside post tandem of Brittany Wood and LaMontica Burger.
Wood came into the game averaging 16.5 points but never got on track as undersized Nitro controlled the paint and the glass.
By the end, Miller had racked up 12 points and 10 rebounds while Reavis grabbed a game-high 15 boards to go with seven points.
Wood scored just five points to go with nine rebounds for the Warriors.
"I've spent from Nov. 27 pushing those two as hard as I can to the point where we've gotten in arguments - it's just them two," Samuel said. "That's what we've got down there working to get rebounds. They've really started to realize how good we can be and they've taken it upon themselves to just do it."
Miller is one of two seniors on the team (along with guard Bethany Hill), and having gone through the struggles of the past few seasons she's really enjoying the Wildcats' current run.
"It's really set in some confidence for us, we've came really far," Miller said. "We're a growing group and the girls next year have growing to do, but we've worked really hard these four years. Props to the coach - he's stuck around and he's been there for us."
Junior point guard Savannah Shamblin has been a huge part in Nitro's resurgence this season, averaging 22 points coming into Tuesday's game. She scored just 10 but settled into running the offense, piling up nine assists and four steals along the way.
Bethany Linville, who had scored just 28 points all season, came off the bench and provided a spark, going for a team-high 14 with four 3-pointers, while Hannah Linville added 11 points.
Riverside hung around for a while, riding hot-handed Kara Knapp, who went for a team-high 15 points (including three 3-pointers), but coach Scott Garretson said the long layoff really hurt his team in terms of conditioning.
"There's no way we can be in game shape," Garretson said. "We've not played since Dec. 19. Our shots had to be short; they were tired and had tired legs. I think our game was definitely affected and the second half was just not good.
"[Nitro] beat us to loose balls, they tried harder on the glass for rebounds, and that's an effort thing. I'm going to chalk it up to fatigue - I don't want to think that we weren't trying, I just think we probably were tired. It's not their fault we're not in shape."
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, email@example.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.