Trimmer helps West Branch cut down the nets
Trimmer’s 24 points propel West Branch to regional trip
By Tom Williams
Falcons Gymnasium no longer is a House of Horrors for the West Branch High girls basketball team.
After seeing their season end three straight years in the Division II district final at Fitch High, the Warriors (22-4) hung on against Struthers on Friday to earn a trip to Tuesday’s regional tournament at Barberton.
Powered by junior Melinda Trimmer’s 24 points, the Warriors defeated the Wildcats, 47-42.
“They just kept believing and they just kept working hard,” West Branch head coach Walt DeShields said as his players cut down the nets. “Our seniors have had to be on the other side, getting silver for three years.
“Those last two minutes, we played awesome basketball,” DeShields said.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Brittaney Zupko’s free throw gave Struthers a 38-37 lead. The Warriors responded with 3-pointers by Trimmer and Pavin Heath.
But the Wildcats would not go away. With 2:49 remaining, Taryn Hahn sank two free throws to make it 45-39. Moments later, McKenna Shives connected for her third 3-pointer, keeping the Warriors within striking distance at 45-42.
In the final 90 seconds, Shives attempted two more long-range shots, the last one with fewer than 10 seconds remaining. It bounced off the backboard to Trimmer, who sealed the win with two free throws.
“We had been in this position before so we know what it took,” said Trimmer, a Youngstown State recruit. “It feels good.”
Struthers coach John Grandy will miss his five senior starters (Shives, Zupko, Ashleigh Ryan, Halle Smrek, Ashley Kane).
“Couldn’t be prouder — effort means everything,” Grandy said. “I can’t be upset because our effort was outstanding.
“I am so happy for Walt,” Grandy said. They made shots when they needed them. We had some open looks and didn’t make them.”
Ryan scored 12 and Kane 10 while Zupko had five rebounds for the Wildcats (19-6).
The Warriors expressed joy that DeShields and his seniors will get the chance to take a team to regional. In 2011, Struthers defeated West Branch, 40-25. The past two seasons, Canfield eliminated West Branch (42-40 and 40-37).
“To get him this win means everything to us,” Trimmer said. “We’ve been trying to get this for him for four years now. We’ve been working so hard and it finally paid off.”
Senior Amanda Linhart, who scored eight points and made five rebounds, said the win brought “a sigh of relief — we finally did it.
“It’s just the best feeling,” Linhart said. “We’ve been through some tough, really heartbreaking losses, so to win this one, my senior year, is just great.”
It wasn’t easy. Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats took a 35-30 lead on Kane’s 3-pointer.
The Warriors wasted no time, tying it on a Hahn basket and a Trimmer 3-pointer.
“We did not quit,” Linhart said. “When they would hit us with a 3, we would go right back out hit them with one. I felt we [made] some really good stops when we needed to.”