By Steve Wilaj
West Branch High coach Walt DeShields realizes the public perception of his team.
That being that junior guard Melinda Trimmer, an early commit to Youngstown State and the reigning Northeastern Buckeye Conference “Player of the Year,” is mainly responsible for the Warriors’ success.
But DeShields know better.
“We have a lot of scorers,” he said. “I think we’re a hard team to match up with because we don’t necessarily have that one or two players that you can help off of. If so, they’ll make you pay.”
Boardman found out the hard way Saturday, as West Branch defeated the Spartans, 52-41, in the first game of the second annual Hope Foundation High School Basketball Classic at Struthers Fieldhouse.
Pavin Heath led the way with 15 points, while Taryn Hahn and Erica Johnson also added eight points apiece. Meanwhile, Trimmer finished with 13 points, four rebounds and six assists.
“My teammates are great,” Trimmer said. “I know if I’m having a bad game I can rely on any of them. It’s really nice to know that I have four scorers out there with me all the time.”
DeShields said that trust is a sign of Trimmer’s growth.
“She’s starting to understand to trust her teammates and sometimes just go screen and let them make a play,” he said. “We’re a difficult team to guard when that happens.”
After an even first quarter, the Warriors (4-1) outscored Boardman 19-6 in the second quarter. Held scoreless in the first eight minutes, Trimmer answered with seven points in the second period.
“We came out with a lot more energy on defense,” Trimmer said. “And on offense, my job is to set screens and get people open — then eventually I’ll get open. So I just kind of let it come to me because I knew shots would open up.”
The Spartans face-guarded Trimmer until foul trouble altered that plan.
“We did a nice job with it, but we couldn’t have our girls foul out,” Boardman coach Jeff Hammerton said. “We just weren’t making many shots [in the second quarter].”
Boardman (1-4) made just two shots in the second period and finished 13 of 50 overall from the field.
Still, the Spartans responded with a 14-10 third quarter, guided by three 3-pointers from Kelly Tomcsanyi, who finished with a game-high 20 points. They even cut the deficit to 42-37 in the fourth quarter, but ultimately couldn’t overcome their cold shooting.
“When you shoot the ball like that, you’re not going to beat a team like West Branch,” Hammerton said. “We’re just trying to figure out ways to win basketball games. Right now, we as a coaching staff aren’t getting that done. We’re finding ways to lose games.”
DeShields, meanwhile, was delighted with the way his team finished the game.
“Credit to Boardman, they came out in the third and Tomcsanyi was stroking,” he said.” But our girls didn’t panic. They just stayed the course, kept working the ball around, found some open looks and put them in.”