VALE — The West Lincoln Lady Rebels girls varsity basketball team exploded for a 16-3 first-quarter lead on their way to a 53-40 Southern Piedmont Conference win over the Bessemer City Yellow Jackets on Tuesday.
Senior Rylee Marsh scored 14 of the team’s first-quarter points and finished with a double-double with 25 points and 14 rebounds.
“We needed to come out strong,” West Lincoln (6-9, 4-3) head coach Holly Specht said. “We’ve been slow in the first quarter. She came out ready to score. This has to be her best game ever. She dominated.”
Marsh made a layup in the opening seconds of the game off an assist from senior wing Taylor Sutton, who finished the game with four points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Marsh then pulled in an offensive board and made a layup with seven minutes left in the first quarter to give the Lady Rebels a 4-1 lead. She scored twice more on putbacks, once on an inbound pass, once on a fast break and added West Lincoln’s final basket of the period off another assist by Sutton. Freshman Erin Huff (eight points, five rebounds) scored on a layup with 3:20 left in the first quarter.
But Bessemer City (7-8, 3-4) shot its way back into the game, outscoring West Lincoln 14-5 in the second quarter and trailing 21-17 at halftime. Sutton made a pair of free throws after being fouled on her way up to the basket with 6:46 left before halftime but the Lady Rebels didn’t make another basket until five minutes later when freshman Heather Truesdale made a free throw. Sutton pulled in an offensive rebound and made a layup with just over a minute left before the halftime break to give West Lincoln a 21-16 lead.
“We got relaxed a little bit,” Specht said. “I think they looked at the scoreboard and thought they could relax. And turnovers have hurt us all season. I told them, ‘you can’t look up and the scoreboard and think the game is over.’”
West Lincoln pulled ahead for a 34-28 lead at the end of the third quarter, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 13-11 in the period. Bessemer City pulled to within five points of West Lincoln, 29-24, with 2:30 left in the third, but sophomore post Madison Ferguson added a point on a free throw and two points on a layup and Marsh scored on another offensive board to give the Lady Rebels a cushion headed into the final frame.
West Lincoln saw its biggest offensive production in the fourth quarter, outscoring Bessemer City 19-12. The Lady Rebels started the fourth with a 5-0 run and closed out the game with a 6-0 run in the final minute.