MASON, W.Va. — Not necessarily new, but definitely improved.
The Wahama girls basketball team forced 28 turnovers and held visiting Buffalo to just 26 percent from the field Friday night en route to a 64-40 victory in a non-conference contest at Gary Clark Court in Mason County.
The Lady Falcons (1-0) were quite impressive in their season opener as the hosts shot 39 percent through three quarters of play and had seven different players reach the scoring column in the 24-point triumph.
The Lady Bison (0-2) jumped out to an early 6-2 advantage, but the Red and White answered with a 15-5 surge over the final 6:21 of the opening frame while establishing a 17-11 edge through eight minutes of play.
After both teams went scoreless through the first four minutes of the second canto, Emily Reilly netted a basket with 3:58 left in the first half while trimming the deficit down to 17-13. The guests, however, were never closer the rest of the way.
The Lady Falcons reeled off the next 10 points to secure their largest lead of the first half at 27-13 with 43 seconds remaining, but Buffalo was able to add a basket right before the halftime buzzer sounded for a 12-point contest at the break.
The hosts hit 7-of-14 field goals in the third stanza and made a 10-2 charge over the opening five minutes of the second half, allowing Wahama to secure a 20-point lead at 37-17 with 2:56 left. The Blue and Gold closed the final 2:44 on a small 10-7 run to close to within 44-27 headed into the finale.
The Lady Bison closed the gap down to 15 points (44-29) just six seconds into the fourth, but the guests were never closer the rest of the way.
The Lady Falcons led the final 3:29 of regulation by at least 20 points, and the hosts took their largest lead of the game following an Ashtyn Russell basket with 12 seconds left that ultimately completed the 64-40 triumph.
Wahama — which had only two varsity wins over the last four seasons, both of which came last winter — received a solid one-two punch from sophomore Hannah Rose and freshman Emma Gibbs, who combined to score 44 of the hosts’ points.
The Lady Falcons also outrebounded BHS by a sizable 48-23 overall margin, including a 25-3 edge on the offensive glass.
After such a dominant performance, WHS coach John Arnott was pleased with the overall effort — particularly on the defensive side of the court.
“These kids are not used to coming out and building a lead like that, especially in the first quarter, so it was really nice to see their intensity at the start,” Arnott said. “The kids have worked hard and they are buying into playing defense, and I think that showed tonight.
“This was a much-needed start to our season and I’m proud of what we did collectively, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We still have a long way to go, but we’ll enjoy tonight and start getting ready for the next one starting tomorrow morning.”
Wahama — which committed 17 total turnovers, 11 of which came after the break — forced 13 turnovers in the second quarter and 21 turnovers in the middle frames, a span that saw the hosts make an all-important 27-16 charge.
The Lady Falcons netted 24-of-69 field goal attempts overall, including a 1-of-5 effort from three-point range for 20 percent. The hosts were also 15-of-30 at the free throw line for 50 percent.
Rose led WHS with a game-high 25 points, followed by Gibbs with a double-double effort of 19 points and 18 rebounds in her varsity debut. Russell and Maddy VanMatre also contributed six points apiece to the winning cause.
Harley Roush was next with four points, while Tori VanMatre and Natalie Rickard completed the winning tally with two markers apiece. Maddy VanMatre also hauled in six rebounds for the victors.
The Lady Bison connected on 9-of-35 field goal attempts for 26 percent, including a 2-of-13 effort from three-point range for 15 percent. The guests were also 20-of-26 at the charity stripe for 77 percent.
Reilly led the Lady Bison with 23 points, followed by Joni Smith with five points and Hailey Williams with four markers.
Brooke Slaubaugh was next with three points, while Kelsey Templeton and Alexys Spaulding with two points apiece. Kendra Legg completed the BHS tally with one point.
Williams led the guests with six rebounds and Smith also hauled in five caroms in the setback.
Wahama opens Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division play on Thursday when it travels to Stewart to face Federal Hocking.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.