By Josh Shreckengost
West Shamokin senior guard Abby Oesterling drops in a lay-up in the third quarter of the Wolves' 69-18 Heritage Conference win over Northern Cambria on Thursday night. Oesterling played a spectacular all-around game as West Shamokin (9-0) remained undefeated in 2021.
Rural Valley, Pa. — It was Senior Night at West Shamokin Jr-Sr High School on Thursday night and the five Lady Wolves who were honored during a pregame ceremony put together a dominant performance as the home team rolled over Northern Cambria in a Heritage Conference tilt, 69-18.
Sophie Fusaro, Abby Oesterling, Lydia McIlwain, Brittany Coleman and Ally Schultheis played significant minutes on the evening and each contributed to a lopsided victory which kept West Shamokin perfect on the season, both overall (9-0) and in the Heritage Conference (7-0). Following the game, West Shamokin head coach Frank Nagy spoke of his special bond with this year's group of seniors.
"This senior group has been huge in our program and they're actually the first girls basketball team I ever coached," Nagy said. "I got the job when they were in seventh grade so I feel a very special connection with them, no doubt. They're just a hard-working group. They give you everything and they've developed so much, but it goes back to the fact that they have great attitudes, you never hear a word of complaining. They're just a great group of girls and it's been a pleasure coaching them."
The Wolves and Colts traded baskets on the first two possessions of the game, but that would be as close as Northern Cambria would get to West Shamokin on the evening. Fusaro hit her first three shots — all of them from beyond the arc — and the Wolves were off and running. By the end of the first half, West Shamokin held a 26-point advantage and led 34-8 at the break.
The lead swelled even more in the second half as West Shamokin controlled the play, both offensively and defensively. The Wolves also compiled a huge rebounding advantage over the Colts and limited Northern Cambria to very few second-chance opportunities while also creating second chances for themselves on the offensive glass.
Fusaro led all scorers with 26 points and also hauled down 8 rebounds and dished out six assists. Oesterling was the best all-around player on the court against Northern Cambria and her stat line proved it as she scored 12 points, ripped down a game-high 13 rebounds, recorded seven steals and handed out eight assists. Oesterling's stellar all-around play fueled the Wolves at both ends of the court and her uncanny jumping ability and timing led to several offensive rebounds. McIlwain scored seven points, tallied four rebounds and three assists and also took a charge. Coleman scored six points and hauled in 10 rebounds while Schultheis dropped in six points and nabbed seven steals. Freshman Lily Jordan also contributed 10 points in the winning effort.
Though the victory was satisfying for his group, Nagy noted that the Wolves' toughest stretch still lies ahead. West Shamokin will play seven games over the next 16 days, culminating with a regular season finale against United. The Wolves will face the Lions twice, Homer-Center and will have to take on Penns Manor as well during the home stretch.
"Mentally, they understand that we just have to continue compete and get better, they really don't get too high or too low," Nagy said. "They don't focus on rankings or success, it's really just focusing on the next team, they don't look ahead. We have big games coming up. We were fortunate to go 7-0 in conference during the first half [of the season], but we didn't have to play United who has one loss. It's us with no losses and United and Homer[-Center] with one. It's a grind, you can't look too far ahead because the next team will smack you in the mouth. It's just keeping with the grind, one game at a time and just keep it rolling."
To watch a complete re-broadcast of West Shamokin's 69-18 win over Northern Cambria, please click the link below: