SALINEVILLE - After a muddled first half in which both teams struggled to create any offensive rhythm, Wellsville turned up the speed to pull away for a big rivalry win.
Using rapid scoring strikes and a quick defensive press, the Tigers overwhelmed Southern 45-30 on Thursday.
Wellsvile led by just one after the first half, 15-14, until the Tigers exploded for a 14-3 run to open the third quarter. Wellsville outscored the Indians 30-16 in the second half.
"There was a lack of intensity in the first half compared to the second," Wellsville coach Ed Swogger said. "That's what we talked about at halftime. We had to move and we had to run and we weren't doing either in the first half."
Much of the intensity Wellsville (2-2, 2-1 lower tier) needed came from senior Shartece Taylor who used her speed to push ahead of Southern defenders and score swift buckets.
"When we run, we're a good team," Taylor said. "When we don't, it's like we're in slow-motion."
This isn't the first time Wellsville started a game sluggishly. On December 10, the Tigers opened a league game against Sebring with just 14 points in the first half. Wellsville lost big 70-47 - a game Taylor hasn't forgotten.
"Our first two games, we came out and played hard," Taylor said. "I think we were just excited since it was our first games. We thought we'd come and blow (Sebring) out, but the crowd got under our skin and we lost bad."
Taylor didn't let that happen Thursday night, pacing the Tigers with 14 points and five rebounds. After placing second in the 100-meter dash during the 2013 state track meet, it's not hard to imagine how Taylor could be such an offensive threat. However, Taylor credits the rest of her team for give her scoring opportunites.
"It's really Kallee Powell," Taylor said. "Her passes are amazing. She reads me well. The team in general, when we run through our plays and I do what I'm supposed to do, that helps me out a lot."
Southern (1-3, 0-3) squandered an opportunity to upset one of its biggest rivals after their poor third quarter. While the Indians looked competitive for half of the game, the Tigers' athleticism was just too much for Southern to overcome.
"You have to credit them for the offense they ran," Southern coach Cory Leek said. "We struggled on offense. For the season, we're shooting under 30 percent from the field and we did that again tonight. We're averaging about 20 turnovers a game, and you figure if they score on half of those, that's 20 points."
Beckah Phillis led the Indians with nine points and 11 rebounds. Brittany Webber added nine points and eight rebounds. Abby Smalley chipped in seven points as well. Southern will continue its search for offense when it hosts Canton Heritage Christian on Saturday.
"Our biggest thing right now is unforced turnovers," Leek said. "Our point guard, Natalie Utt, is a sophomore and she's learning on the fly. We need to put the ball in the hoop a little bit more."
Brittany Clendenning had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Tigers. Powell added six points, five assists and three steals, while Ashley Bennett scored six points. Wellsville will host Toronto on Saturday.
"From the beginning, we thought we could contend in the lower tier," Swogger said. "Right now, we're not at the level we need to be a contender."
The Tigers also won the jayvee game, 42-10. Rasheeda Kalam led Wellsville with 11 points. Natalie May and Makayla Richards each paced Southern with three.
WELLSVILLE: 9-6-18-12 - 45
SOUTHERN: 6-8-6-10 - 30
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Sabrina Thompson 1-3-5, Brittany Clendenning 4-2-10, Shartece Taylor 5-1-14, Kallee Powell 3-0-6, Destiny Crow 2-0-4, Ashley Bennett 3-0-6, Kira Kelley 0-0-0, Rasheeda Kalam 0-0-0. TOTALS: 18, 6-17: 45.
SOUTHERN SCORING: Sarah Phillis 1-0-2, Abby Smelley 3-1-7, Natalie Utt 1-1-3, Natalie May 0-0-0, Kenzie Mosti 0-0-0, Brittany Webber 4-1-9, Beckah Phillis 3-0-9. TOTALS: 12, 3-13: 30.
Three-pointers made: Wellsville 1 (Taylor), Southern 1 (B. Phillis).