Charleston Catholic's Peyton Mullen tries to pry the ball away from Wirt County's Cori Hughes. The Fighting Irish forced 41 turnovers.
Even without one of its best players, Charleston Catholic delivered quite the debut performance for first-year coach Zack Bogan.The Irish forced 41 turnovers and overwhelmed visiting Wirt County from the outset in cruising to an 84-23 win in Catholic's season opener on Friday at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Facility.Freshman Vida Imani paced all players with 23 points and 14 rebounds and helped take up some of the slack after returning senior Hannah Gallian missed the game with an illness.Even as a coach, Bogan couldn't find a whole lot to be unhappy with on Friday.
"We can't complain with it," Bogan said. "We've been running a lot and that's what we want to do, get out and run. Defensively we were really good. We were missing Hannah Gallian who's out sick and they played well with that adjustment and a little bit of adversity even before the game started. I don't have any complaints. We need to clean some stuff up, but it's a great start."Catholic stormed out to a 32-15 halftime, lead but didn't put its foot on the accelerator until after the break, when it used a 30-2 advantage in the third quarter to bury the Tigers.Much of that surge was led by Imani, who scored 13 of her points and grabbed eight of her rebounds during that period.
"I thought she played pretty well," Bogan said. "She's still going through the adjustment phases of it being a little more physical, but she's really adapting and playing well. She's a key piece for us moving forward."Senior point guard Anna Whelan, who has been a key piece for the Irish over the past few years, contributed 17 points, nine rebounds and five steals, while Caroline Dundervill pitched in with 10 points and a team-high eight steals. Maddy Blaydes added 10 points and Peyton Mullen threw in nine points, six assists and six steals.The presence of Whelan, Dundervill and Mullen, in particular, was felt much more on the defensive end, as the trio of slight guards kept the pressure dialed up until Bogan called off the press in the fourth quarter."We just get out and run, that's what we want to do, and that's our game plan," Bogan said. "That's what we want - high turnovers, low field-goal percentage for the other team and we can live with some of the missed shots for us."Megan Burns led the Tigers with nine points and 11 rebounds, while Liz Adams scored eight points and pulled down 11 boards.The Irish limited Wirt to just 8-of-44 shooting and the Tigers made just 5 of their 14 free-throw attempts.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org
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