WEST VALLEY — The West Valley girls varsity basketball team traveled to Portville on Dec. 5 and opened the season with a 25-22 loss to the tournament host. The game was a back-and-forth affair, with both teams playing with the lead, at times. Emmalea Erlandson paced the Wildcats, scoring 7 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. The Wildcats played “outstanding defensively,” according to coach John Arbogast, but struggled offensively, with 18 missed layups, along with shooting 5-14 from the foul line.
“You can’t do that and expect to win. That’s just the bottom line,” said Arbogast. “We played really good defense. Of course, when you hold someone to 25 points, you usually win.
“We missed 18 layups; that’s a possible 36 points right there,” he continued. “Combine that with our poor free-throw shooting; that’s a lot of points we gave away. I really stressed that to the team.”
Junior forward Kaitlyn Snayczuk contributed to West Valley’s defensive effort, pulling down seven rebounds and blocking a game-high five shots. Jordan Seltzer had 6 points and seven steals, in the loss.
The Wildcats racked up 18 steals, while pressuring Portville, throughout the game. Snayczuk and Trisha Thomas, two of West Valley’s players were limited, due to early foul trouble. Alycia Currie and Cameron McLeod came off the bench in their absence and provided quality minutes, according to Arbogast.
After falling in the tournament opener, West Valley took on Smethport, Pa., in the tournament’s consolation game. West Valley trailed Smethport 22-21 at the half, but Smethport would pull away in the second half, defeating the Wildcats 48-30. West Valley was outscored 11-5 in the third quarter and 15-4 in the fourth.
“For some reason, we just fell apart in the second half,” said Arbogast. “Turnovers hurt us. We have to clean up our turnover problem. We just threw the ball away, way too much. We were close, going into the fourth, and it all kind of fell apart. The game was a lot closer than 18 points, I can tell you that.”
Foul shooting once again plagued the Wildcats, as they shot 6 of 19 from the line.
“Again, that hurt us. I’m big on foul shooting,” added Arbogast. “You wouldn’t know it, from our stats, but we work on that during practice, a lot. We have to continue to work hard on it.”
Erlandson scored a team-high, 9 points and pulled in nine rebounds for West Valley, on the way to earning All-Tournament Team honors. Through two games, Erlandson is West Valley’s leading scorer and rebounder.
“She’s a really competitive player. I sometimes have to remind myself that she’s just a freshman,” said Arbogast. “She works hard in practice and really wants to win. She cares a lot about basketball; it’s important to her. She hustles on both ends of the floor. Yeah, she’s only a freshman, but she’s not intimidated. She’ll bang with anyone in the post.”
Looking ahead, West Valley will host Randolph on Dec. 17. Randolph has won the overall Class C title, three years in a row, and sports four-year starter McKenna Maycock. Maycock, a junior, has already given a verbal commitment to play at St. Bonaventure University, on a full scholarship. West Valley will also travel to Franklinville, who won the Portville tournament, and will be a tough test, according to Arbogast. The Wildcats’ treacherous stretch will conclude with a trip to Springville, for the Emerling Ford Holiday Tournament.
“We just have to keep our heads straight, for the next couple weeks,” said Arbogast. “Right off the bat, we’re getting some major tests. It’s going to be tough, but what I’m hoping to get is: Win or lose, we’re going to get some experience against some really good teams. It’s definitely going to help us, when we get to league play.”