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Free throws make the difference, as West Valley girls win second straight

WEST VALLEY — Coming off a 56 – 14 loss to Sherman, during its last game, the West Valley Central School varsity girls basketball team looked to get back in the win column, on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

The Wildcats visited Ripley, which came out with the early lead. “It started out rather sluggish, for the girls from West Valley,” said Coach John Arbogast.

After one quarter, Ripley led 7 – 4. The defense tightened up for West Valley, in the second quarter, leading to multiple turnovers for Ripley. West Valley put up 14 points in that quarter and shut out the opponent, leading 18 – 7, going into halftime. The third quarter also went in favor of the road team 10 – 3, as the girls, as their coach put it, “coasted” to a 36 – 24 win.

Junior Trisha Thomas led the way for West Valley, producing 13 points. She also led in rebounds. Megan Bailey scored 9 points, in the win.

On Jan. 11, West Valley was back in action, playing the Brocton Bulldogs at home. “Again, the girls started out sluggish,” said Arbogast. After one, the game was tied at 5. The second quarter was another turnaround for the girls, who had a 23 – 12 lead at halftime, which became a 34 – 23 lead, going into the final quarter.

“Momentum began to shift, as the Brocton girls weren’t going down easily,” Arbogast said, regarding the final frame of regulation.

Despite the 9-point lead, West Valley could not avoid overtime. Ahead by 1 point and, with 12 seconds left, West Valley’s Rachael Zimmer was fouled. By her making both resulting free throws, the home team was now up by 3.

After the free throws, Brocton went on the offensive, getting the ball to Jessica Putcher, its leading scorer, who put away the 3-pointer, to complete the comeback and send the game into overtime at the buzzer.

During the extra session, West Valley’s Kaitlyn Snayczak scored on a jump shot from the short corner, to give West Valley the early lead.

With 7 seconds left, Zimmer found herself in the same scenario as regulation: her team was up by 1 and she put away two free throws. With a 3-point lead, West Valley defended Brocton’s attempt to tie the game and won the game 51 – 48, thanks to Zimmer’s actions from the foul line, during the dying seconds.

Bailey led West Valley in scoring, with 16, followed by 15 from Zimmer.

Although the home team was outscored 17 – 16 in field goals, the players’ scoring from the foul line put the team over the top, to secure its second straight win.

After the game, the coach stressed the importance of those shots from the foul line. “Coach [Bryan] Hanson and I are always stressing the importance of making free throws,” Arbogast said. “We practice free throw shooting a lot in practice, when the girls are fatigued, to try and simulate game-like situations; making them when you’re tired. It turned out that was the difference between winning and losing this game.”

West Valley took on Ellicottville on the road on Jan. 15 and returned home to host North Collins, the following night.

The girls will host Sherman on Saturday, Jan.19 at 2:30 p.m. The Wildcats will play Franklinville at home on Tuesday, Jan. 22. The varsity game will begin at 7:30 p.m.

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