SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Wheeling Central has put the band back together and the hits are starting to come again.
Senior post player Colleen McCormick turned in 22 points and 19 rebounds to propel the Class A Maroon Knights past AA Sissonville 52-38 Saturday afternoon as they won both of their games on their annual southern swing through the Kanawha Valley. A crowd of about 200 attended the girls high school basketball matchup of state-ranked teams.
After trailing 29-21 at halftime, the Indians (11-5), who are seventh in this week's AA Associated Press poll, pulled within three points twice in the third quarter, the last time on freshman guard Karli Pinkerton's two free throws to close to 36-33 with 1:51 to go.
The Maroon Knights' experience and inside presence won out, though, as senior wing Emily Bucon drove in for a layup, McCormick converted a putback and then, after Indians freshman guard Madison Jones drained a 3-pointer, Bucon answered with a three-point play on a layup and foul shot with 4.2 seconds left for a 43-36 advantage.
The Knights pulled away in the fourth quarter by limiting the Indians to two points on 1-of-12 shooting.
Central (15-2), No. 2 in Class A, won 12 straight before McCormick missed a few games with a high-ankle sprain and Bucon tore her anterior cruciate ligament in early January. This weekend was the first time the Knights had their lineup intact since Jan. 7.
"It feels good,'' said the 5-foot-10 McCormick, who totaled 21 points and 17 rebounds in a win at Charleston Catholic on Friday. "We enjoy playing with each other and there's definitely a lot of passion and heart.
"It's fun. It feels a lot better having us all healthy and back on the court. We all click when we're together. When we had starters out of games the other players had an opportunity to step up and get better and improve. It'll help us in the long run.''
Central's Bucon finished with eight points and four rebounds and sophomore forward Regan Blaha added eight points and three boards. The Knights harassed the Indians into 23.1 percent (12 of 52) shooting, including a 3-of-19 effort from long range, and used their size advantage for a 38-21 edge off the boards.
"I thought we played with more intensity,'' said Central coach Penn Kurtz, who guided the Knights to a runner-up finish in last year's Class A state championship game. "I thought our defensive intensity was where it needed to be. I was very pleased.