WILLIAMSTOWN - Scoring options figure to be diverse for St. Marys girls basketball on a game-to-game basis.
On Tuesday night, freshman Jenna Nichols came off the bench and took over the floor show by hitting 9-of-12 from the field for a game-high 19 points as St. Marys tried not to wilt against Williamstown's pressure in a 59-53 victory.
"I have a lot of nice players that are in roles - it's going to be a different girl every night," St. Marys coach Howard Meeks said as his second-ranked Blue Devils remained unbeaten at 3-0.
Photo courtesy of John Armstrong
St. Marys' Kendra Walker, left, checks the status of teammate Alyssa Fetty after the two girls collided during Tuesday's basketball game at Williamstown. Second-ranked St. Marys defeated fifth-ranked Williamstown, 59-53.
Nichols made her presence felt after the two teams traded baskets for the first three minutes of the third quarter. During an 11-0 run, she scored twice off Yellowjacket turnovers and made another layup off the fast break to build the St. Marys lead to 46-30.
Trailing 52-37 midway in the fourth quarter, Williamstown made another push at the Blue Devils as Allie Robinson accounted for all seven Yellowjacket points in a 45-second span that sliced the deficit to 52-44.
Again Nichols stepped up and made two layups and the margin increased to 57-44 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in regulation. The six-point difference at the end of the game was the closest Williamstown could get.
"Nichols was the catalyst out front for them," Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said after his ballclub dropped to 0-2.
Williamstown countered with freshman point guard Ashley Morris. Listed at 5-foot-1, Morris wasn't afraid to penetrate and attack the likes of St. Marys' 6-foot-4 senior Kendra Walker in the paint. She led all Yellowjackets with 15 points and five assists, and just for good measure pulled down six rebounds.
Robinson finished with 10 points, while teammate Melissa Cieslewski hauled in 16 rebounds.
Topping all rebounds, however, was Walker with 17 to go with 10 points.
"Kendra is one of the best defensive big girls in the state, and that's what she is getting recruited for," Meeks said. "Some of the post moves she made tonight is a result of things she has been working on. I'm proud of her hard work and effort."
The only Williamstown lead of the game occurred on Cieslewski's bucket which gave her squad a 2-0 lead at the 6:05 mark of the first quarter. St. Marys finally scored 43 seconds later on a Mikaela Britton bucket which ignited a 14-3 run. The largest Blue Devil lead of the first half occurred at 22-11 and again at 24-13, but the Yellowjackets were able to climb within four at 26-22 behind the contribution of Morris, who at one point had a hand in 10 straight points.
The margin remained four in the opening stages of the second half when Ashley Hall converted a three-point play as part of her 12-point effort to put St. Marys in front 35-28.
"We didn't go all the way with our pressure - we didn't do everything with it because we thought it would be like pouring gasoline on a fire because St. Marys is that good," Sauro said.
"We ran the halfcourt defense there for a while and tried to address their good shooters. We wanted to take care of Kendra Walker because she is a dominant force.
"I was proud of the girls in the way they were able to adjust to the different defenses that we ran. I thought tonight was a big step forward for this young team."