NuMINE — West Shamokin took another step toward the No. 1 seed in the Heritage Conference, and Sophie Fusaro took a big step in her girls’ basketball career.
West Shamokin breezed past Marion Center, 63-35, and Fusaro topped 1,000 points in her career. She scored the eight points she nedeed to reach the mark in the first quarter and finished with 13 on a comparatively light night of work.
Fusaro provided the early highlight in the girls-boys doubleheader. The unbeaten boys’ team followed with a 68-32 win over the Stingers.
“It’s been great to watch her grow and develop,” West Shamokin coach Frank Nagy said, “and for somebody like her, who put in as much time and hard work as she has, not just in my organized practices — she plays every chance she gets — it’s definitely one of those players you’re thrilled for that she got a milestone that not many get to. She said all along she was not even thinking about it, and it was nice on a night like tonight that we could get a good win and she could get a thousand and can reflect on what she’s been through.”
West Shamokin took a 23-9 lead in the first quarter and led by 20 points, 34-14, at halftime.
The win raised the Wolves’ record to 14-1 overall and 12-1 in the conference. They lead Homer-Center (13-3, 11-2) and United (11-3, 9-3) in the race for the top seed in the conference tournament. The top four teams advance, and defending champion Penns Manor is also assured a berth.
The only thing left to sort out in the coming days is the seeds. The top seeds play host to semifinals on Thursday, and the winners advance to Saturday’s championship game at the home of the highest remaining seed. The conference moved the games back one day earlier this week.
West Shamokin plays host to Purchase Line this evening and then faces United in back-to-back games Saturday and Monday.
“We have a tough Purchase Line team coming up, and then we have United on Saturday and Monday,” Nagy said. “Any easy games are behind us, and now it’s crunch time going forward.”
The Wolves made it look easy against Marion Center.
Fusaro added six rebounds, three steals and five assists to her totals.
Abby Oesterling, a 5-foot-6 senior point guard, accented her all-around game with a game-high 16 points to go with six rebounds, eight steals and three assists.
“She did a nice job,” Nagy said. “She was only 4-for-9 at the line so she left some points out there, but she just continues to improve. She’s getting to the paint, getting offensive rebounds and putbacks. She’s so athletic. She can jump so high compared to other people. I feel like once a game, twice a game, she’s going to grab a couple offensive rebounds and she’s always good for a couple steals and breakaway layups. She just continues to improve and play the game.”
Lily Jordan posted a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds and also came up with three steals. Lydia McIlwain scored nine points and Ally Schultheis had eight.
Kaelee Elkin scored 10 points for Marion Center (4-9), which plays at Blairsville this evening.
In the boys’ game, West Shamokin (16-0, 14-0) matched the girls’ first-quarter output and took a 23-12 lead. The Wolves poured in 20 more points in the second quarter and led by 22, 43-21, at halftime. They finished with a season-high 11 3-point field goals.
They also took a step toward the No. 1 seed going into its final two games of the regular season. West Shamokin plays at Purchase Line this evening and plays at United (15-2, 12-1) on Monday. Penns Manor (10-4, 9-4) is third, and Saltsburg (6-6), Marion Center (8-8, 7-7) and Homer-Center (6-9, 6-7) are battling for a spot.
Jack McCullough hit four 3s and scored a game-high 16 points. Bo Swartz turned in 14 points to go with six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Trevor Smulik reached double figures with 10 points and also had seven rebounds and four assists. Justin Smulik chipped in nine points, and Ezeck Olinger had eight.
Vitalijs Petroff had 10 points for Marion Center.