Injury to key player throws off Bears

Oak Glen’s Emmy Severs and Alayna Kranis (24) go up for the block on Weir’s Sophia Mikula on Tuesday. (Photo by Joe Catullo)

WEIRTON, W.Va. — Although Tuesday night was Weir High’s season opener, senior Bailey Stead already began questioning her shot early on.

She nailed a few 3-pointers here and there, but she could not find a rhythm. She had to get out of her own head in the fourth quarter if the Red Riders wanted to open the season 1-0 for the first time in five years.

“I think I got out of my head,” Stead said. “I was kind of down on myself at first because I wasn’t making a lot of my shots. I knew I had to step up late because it was close.”

Stead didn’t disappoint, draining two fourth-quarter 3-pointers and giving Weir the lead for good. In fact, the Red Riders scored 27 fourth-quarter points to down Oak Glen 61-49. Stead scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the final frame.

“When she wants to shoot, she can shoot. It’s just a matter of being consistent and playing the game,” Weir head coach Rick Stead said. “Like all kids, sometimes they try to do a little too much. Just do your job, and everybody will take care of the rest. Hitting some of those 3s were big.”

Oak Glen (0-1) led 39-34 going into the final quarter. Weir finally took the lead with 5:31 remaining at 45-43 and never looked back. Bailey Stead’s 3s along with numerous foul line opportunities lifted the Red Riders.

“I told them at halftime that one thing we did poorly was we didn’t find Bailey, especially on in-bound plays,” Oak Glen head coach John Leary said. “They kept screening us. I know she made at least two of them just throwing it to her on the in-bound. She’s going to bury it.”

The Red Riders also committed only five turnovers in the fourth. They trailed after the first and third quarters when they had 19 total turnovers (nine in the first and 10 in the third).

“Historically, that’s been the problem for us,” Rick Stead said. “We still have a young basketball team even though the kids are a year older. They improved after being down last year. They did a better job of handling the press tonight at times. They’ve come a long way in their abilities.”

While Bailey Stead was the spark plug, Sophia Mikula was the workhorse. She finished with 17 points and a game-high 16 rebounds. Taylor Webster recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Trezure Elmore-Sarter added eight boards off the bench.

“She did a great job of getting after things,” Rick Stead said of Mikula. “She just plays hard, and that’s one thing you can always count on her doing.”

For the Golden Bears, they lost their leader within the first 25 seconds of the contest. Maggie Kovalcik stole a pass and made the layup for the game’s first two points. She injured her lower leg and was carried off the court. She then went to a local hospital. Leary will not know the extent of her injury until today.

“She seemed like she was in a lot of pain,” he said. “Hopefully it’s not the worst, and you hope for the best because she’s important. If anybody was going to get hurt that would throw us off our game, it’s Maggie.”

The young, undersized Bears had to move on. They did in the first and third quarters by outscoring Weir 35-19. In the second and fourth quarters combined, however, the Red Riders had a 42-14 advantage.

“I was really proud of the kids for having that adversity right from the opening minute, hanging in there and leading for a large portion of the game,” Leary said. “(Brittney) Giorgini had to step up and play point guard for us. (Taylor) Jackson, who’s a freshman, had to play some point. We made some crucial mistakes at crucial times, but we made some big plays, too.”

Reece Enochs tallied 14 points and three rebounds. Alexa Andrews had 12 points and five boards. Emmy Severs compiled seven points, while Alayna Kranis added four points and eight rebounds.

“I didn’t know what they were going to bring,” Rick Stead said regarding Oak Glen. “I know they lost some kids from last year. They had a tenacity about them the whole game. They looked like they started getting tired in the third, but they came back and stayed with it.”

Oak Glen will compete in a tournament on Thursday at Brooke along with Steubenville Catholic Central and Linsly. Weir heads to East Fairmont on the same day.

“I knew we would come out hard because all we want to do is win,” Bailey Stead said. “We’ve been working really hard in practice, so I expected us to come out hard. Thursday will be a challenge because they’ve been playing together longer than we have.”

Game notes:

Ø The Weir jayvee team won 43-24. Isabella Aperfine led the Red Riders with 15 points. Oak Glen’s Jadyn Smith had eight.

Weir High 61, Oak Glen 49

Oak Glen 16-4-19-10 — 49

Weir High 11-15-8-27 — 61

Oak Glen (0-1): Kovalcik 1 0-0 2; Enochs 6 0-0 14; Giorgini 0 0-3 0; Severs 2 3-4 7; Kranis 2 0-0 4; Andrews 3 6-10 12; Beaver 0 0-0 0; Orenzuk 0 0-0 0; Travis 0 0-0 0; Barganski 0 1-3 1; Loveland 0 0-1 0; Jackson 1 0-0 3. TOTALS: 17, 10-23: 49.

Weir High (1-0): Mikula 6 5-8 17; Fuscardo 0 3-7 3; Webster 5 4-8 14; Gianni 1 2-4 4; Stead 7 1-2 21; Elmore-Sarter 0 2-3 2; Vuiller 0 0-0 0; Kazmarek 0 0-2 0; McAllister 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 19, 17-34: 61.

3-point goals: Oak Glen 5 (Enochs 2, Orenzuk 2, Jackson); Weir High 6 (Stead 6).

Rebounds: Oak Glen 34 (Kranis 8); Weir High 50 (Mikula 16). Turnovers: Oak Glen 29; Weir High 27.