WEST VALLEY — The West Valley varsity basketball girls extended their winning streak to three games, when the squad upended Forestville 43-33 on Jan. 24. The win improved West Valley’s league record to 3-1, which puts them tied for second place in their division.
“We kind of fiddled around and the game got close,” said West Valley coach John Arbogast. “We just did enough to win. Forestville hung around and we just did enough to stay ahead of them. It was an important game because it was a league game, but we need to keep our intensity high, every game. We’re kind of up and down with that.”
West Valley jumped out to a 10-2 lead after one quarter and took a 20-9 lead into the half, but Arbogast noted that he was looking for his team to open up a close game in the second half, which the girls were unable to do.
“We played like we didn’t have a sense of urgency,” the coach said. “We were fortunate enough to get the win. But if we want to compete with every team in our division, we have keep our intensity high and play a complete game.”
Emmalea Erlandson led West Valley with 12 points. Erlandson added six rebounds and four steals. Trisha Thomas was not far behind, scoring 10 points, grabbing seven rebounds and adding a blocked shot. Jordan Seltzer added 9 points. Thomas is averaging nearly 13 points per game, during the Wildcats three-game winning streak. The senior forward is West Valley’s leading scorer, averaging 9.1 points per game, this season.
“She’s quietly become our leading scorer,” said Arbogast. “She plays underneath and she’s kind of the workhorse. She doesn’t say much; she just goes out there and does it. A lot of people might not notice her a lot because she’s not flashy. She lets the game come to her and when I look in the book, as far as points go, I’m kind like ‘whoa, I didn’t think she had that many.’ She just does her job.”
Going into the season, Arbogast wanted to take advantage of his team’s height, with four players on the team who are 5 feet, 9 inches tall or taller. Thomas has teamed up with Erlandson, at 7.8 points per game, and Kaitlyn Snayczuk, at 8.5 points per game, to give West Valley multiple post presences. Snayczuk and Erlandson also offer versatility, with their ability to play on the perimeter, as well. Has West Valley’s size been a big reason for their 3-1 start in league play?
“Absolutely it has. That’s who we are trying to run our offense through,” said Arbogast. “We want to take advantage of that and I’ve been saying that, since the beginning of the year. We have the size that other teams don’t have. But I’m always trying to get the girls to shoot. I want them to take open shots; I really encourage that. Even if we miss, I’m confident that we can get the offensive rebound and get a put-back with our size.”
The size has made a difference defensively, as well, as West Valley has allowed 44 points per contest, in four league games. Strong rebounding has limited opposing teams to one shot per possession, according to the coach. Erlandson, with 7.3 rebounds per game, Snayczuk, with 8.4 rebounds per game and Thomas, with 8.1 rebounds per game, account for 65 percent of West Valley’s rebounding. Snayczuk’s shot-blocking ability has also been important to the team’s defensive success as well, noted Arbogast. Snayczuk is averaging three blocks per game which puts her amongst the best in Section VI.
“When she’s focused, she’s an intimidating player,” said Arbogast of Snayczuk. “When you get the ball smacked back in your face a couple times, you’re going to think twice about going through there again. She does that. She makes some big blocks and that can be intimidating.”
Next up for West Valley is a home-and-home with Franklinville. Both teams own a share of second place in their division, with identical 3-1 records. The divisional foes met earlier in the season, with Franklinville prevailing 71-43 in a tournament game. However, Franklinville ended up losing to Ellicottville, in the tournament championship. West Valley beat Ellicottville by 2.
“If the same team that beat Ellicottville shows up – we can knock off Franklinville,” said Arbogast. “There is not a doubt in my mind that we can. If we can come out with that intensity and that focus, we can beat them. [Franklinville’s] a great team, no doubt. But we can do it.”
Franklinville is led by junior Vanessa Pfeiffer, with 16.4 points per game, and eighth-grader Allyson Haskell, with 14.2 points per game. Those players are the top two scorers in their division.
“That’s who their offense goes around,” said Arbogast, of Franklinville’s scoring duo. “They shoot it from the outside and they do it well. Obviously, we didn’t get it done, in the first game. We started out well, running our offense, in the first game, but we got away from it and things got out of hand. That’s the focus part. We need to focus to stay and play within our game plan.”
West Valley hosted Franklinville on Jan. 30, before the Wildcats traveled to Franklinville on Feb. 1.