By Evan Merrill Sports Editor
Mt. Carmel Register
MOUNT CARMEL -- What a weekend for Wabash Valley College women's basketball and sophomore Keya Patton.
Patton led the No. 19 ranked Lady Warriors to two wins in the annual Warrior Classic over the weekend, with Patton averaging 26 points per game in victories No. 21 Wallace State CC-Hanceville and Moberly Area Community College.
The first game of the weekend was much closer and had higher stakes, as the No. 21 ranked Lions presented more of a challenge to the Lady Warriors with their athleticism and size in a battle of top 25 teams.
Their full-court pressure finally began to rattle Wallace State, forcing some turnovers and converting in transition to build their largest lead of the game, 75-62 with four and change remaining in the ballgame. They went on to win 87-76.
Patton in particular was extremely aggressive in this ballgame. She became incredibly engaged offensively in the second half, including a vital stretch where she scored 10 straight points for the Lady Warriors.
Other Lady Warriors in double-figures scoring included sophomore Bre Beck's 13 points, five assists and four steals, sophomore KK White's 12 points and six boards, and sophomore Haley Moore's 10 points and five boards.
"I think Keya Patton gave us a huge spark, scoring the ball at will tonight," Wabash Valley College Head Women's Basketball Coach Lacey Shalenko said. "Bre Beck attacking the rim, had some big minutes from Haley Moore. But I think our defensive pressure, we were getting out in transition and were really tough to guard at the rim."
The second game of the tournament was assuredly a bittersweet matchup for Shalenko, pitting her against a team all too familiar for her -- Moberly Area Community College.
Shalenko's in her first year on the job as the Lady Warriors head coach, hailing from Moberly, where she served as an assistant coach last season. When asked how much she knew about her former team she smiled and replied, "Only everything."
Her team must have known the significance of the game to her, because their intensity was dialed up starting from the opening tip-off.
Wabash Valley College's dominance would be shown in the first half, where they'd build their lead to a 42-23 advantage at halftime.
Defensively they were superb, playing passing lanes, rotating with help defense on drives, pressing in the full-court, just everything you could ask for.
That intensity continued in the second half, and they blew it wide open for a 89-55 victory.
As far as a team performance, Saturday's win over Moberly was likely their best win and most complete of the season. They shot 9-for-18 from behind the arc (50 percent), got out in transition, and assisted on 19 scores. Defensively, they held Moberly to just 29.9 percent shooting, including 4-for-23 from 3-point land.
Again, Patton was the lead Lady Warrior, posting an efficient 9-of-15 shooting line with 26 points and five assists. Four other Lady Warriors accompanied Patton in double-figures, sophomore Jordan Aikens with 12 points and seven boards, sophomore Monique Pruitt-Henderson with 12 points and nine boards, freshman Jazmyn Turner scoring 10 points while battling through some foul trouble, and Beck adding 10 points and five dimes to her solid weekend.
"I thought we had several kids play well," Shalenko spoke of her team's victory over Moberly. "Keya Patton had 26 again tonight, that kid is such a competitor. Mo [Pruitt-Henderson] had a good game for us today, Jordan had a good game coming off the bench, then Bre and Jazmyn were solid like they always are,"
"They are a great team, today our defensive intensity was just on point and kind of propelled us to this win today."
With a successful weekend in hand, the No. 19 Lady Warriors will command more national respect after improving to 5-1 on the season and likely earned a rise in the next poll as a result.
They'll return to action on Wednesday when they host Olney Central at 5:30 p.m. Their game will be followed by the Wabash Valley College men's basketball team, who follow with an encore against Olney at 7:30 p.m.
WS -- 17 22 16 21 -- 76
WVC -- 24 16 25 22 -- 87
MA -- 13 10 11 21 -- 55
WVC -- 23 19 23 24 -- 89
MVP of the weekend: Patton (26 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 4.5 apg, 1.5 spg).