ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- Spring Valley didn't show up in the right frame of mind Thursday night.
That's what a 10-game winning streak can do to a young team still learning how to handle success. After trailing for most of the opening half, the Timberwolves quickly returned to form by turning up the defensive pressure to run away with a 57-36 victory over pesky St. Albans. A crowd of about 200 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference West Division matchup.
Spring Valley (11-2), which was fifth in this week's Associated Press poll, took the lead just before halftime on Jordan Ratcliff's two free throws, then found itself deadlocked at 21-all early in the third period after SA's Addison Oliver hit a 3-pointer. Oliver finished with a season-high 12 points.
That's when the Timberwolves, who started four sophomores, took charge with their full-court pressure, forcing forced the Red Dragons into 11 of their 31 turnovers in the third quarter. Spring Valley feasted off those during an 11-0 surge for take a 32-21 edge with 3:37 to go in the period as four different players contributed points on mostly layups and foul shots.
"We came out strong with a press and started getting the tempo up,'' said Spring Valley sophomore post player Madison Morris, who finished with a team-high 15 points and added five rebounds. "We just did not come out ready to play.
"[St. Albans] was definitely playing harder and they were out-hustling us and we got into foul trouble that caused some problems for us. We just weren't focused at all. You're going to have your ups and downs and you've just got to get over it.''
SA (5-7) closed within seven points at the end of the third quarter, but Morris began the fourth period with two foul shots and sophomore guard Sarah Kelly followed with a 3-pointer to put the Timberwolves ahead 41-29. Kelly finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five steals.
"We took the fight to them in the first half,'' said SA coach Scott James, whose team lost by only three points to No. 6 Princeton Tuesday. "They just went on a run [in the third quarter].
"[Spring Valley] did what they wanted to do. I was really, really disappointed in our effort the second half. I think some of them lost their fire when we got down 10 or 11 points and still had plenty of time to fight back, but those are things we have to learn as a young team.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at tatkin...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.