By KIM NORTH
Times Leader Sports Writer
When the 2012 Wheeling Hospital OVAC Girls' Basketball Championships tip-off Saturday morning inside Ohio University Eastern's Health and Physical Education Building outside of St. Clairsville, the initial contest pits the defending Class A titlists against the new kids on the block.
Weirton Madonna, the No. 3 seed and reigning queenpins, will meet top-seeded Trinity (18-0), which is making its debut in the OVAC finals, in the 9:30 a.m. lid-lifter.
The Blue Dons (15-5) upended No. 2 seed Beallsville in semifinal action Monday night to reach the championship game, while Trinity rolled past No. 4 Conotton Valley.
"I don't know very much about them," Trinity fourth-year head coach Cary Woods said of Madonna. "We had one common opponent in Linsly, but I learned early in my coaching career that you don't compare scores of other teams.
"From what I've been able to gather, they've got a really strong backcourt," he continued. "One of the young ladies is who really makes them go.
"Other than that, we're kind of going into the game blind."
The backcourt he was referring to consists of seniors Isabella Anile and Lisa Parkins, with Anile being the engine that makes the Blue Dons roll.
The 5-5 Anile leads Madonna with a 17-point-a-game scoring clip, while also averaging nearly five assists (4.8) and slightly more than four rebounds (4.1). Parkins knocks down 10.4 points and grabs 3.4 rebounds.
As far as his own team goes, in no way did Woods think his Lady Warriors would be unbeaten at this juncture of the campaign.
"I told my wife in December that I thought we would be around .500 at Christmas, so this is kind of unexpected," Woods allowed. "But we thought by the end of the year that this might be the best team we've had in the four years I've been here if the girls gelled and got along."
He said he would like to think his team is very well rounded when asked if they were an inside or outside team.
"I'd like to think we can play in both situations," he said. "We're not big enough to just pound it inside for 32 minutes by any means. I think we're athletic enough to throw it inside and score, but also score from the perimeter."
Sophomore Jackie Halapy (5-11) and senior Emily Myers (5-11) are the Warriors' two main weapons.
"Jackie is pretty agile and runs the court well," Woods noted. "She's our leading scorer. Emily is the player that does so many things on the court that don't show up in the boxscore. She's started since she was a freshman and she works extremely hard. She knows what everyone else is supposed to be doing, not just herself."
Senior Haley Triplett and Tara Neely, sophomores Leah Berhanu, Meagan Triplett and Mackenzie Hill, along with freshmen Megan Myers, Emily Evans and Abigail Barnett round out the Trinity roster.
Madonna head coach Don Ogden said making the OVAC tournament is always one of his team's goals.
"We had to make the tournament first and then we had to get past a very good Beallsville team on the road," Ogden noted. "Now that we've done both of those, here we are in the championship and we're tickled pink to be here."
One of the biggest adjustments for the Blue Dons won't be how to defend the Warriors, but how they respond to playing on a much bigger floor in the finals than they did in the semis.
"That will definitely be a transition for us," he related. "It will be an adjustment that our girls will have to make, but we've played on some big courts this year, so we're pretty confident in making that adjustment."
The Blue Dons, like many area teams, have been hampered by injuries. They lost senior Stephanie Magnone early on with a knee injury that will sideline her for the season, and classmate Melanie Mazur has been out with an injury, but should return for Saturday's game.
"We've been through some adversity, but every team goes through that from time to time," Ogden continued.
Anile, who plays guard, has the aggressiveness to play the post and bang around inside, according to her coach.
The Blue Dons leading rebounder is 6-0 senior center Sara Lyons, who pulls down 6.4 boards and scores 7.4 points per contest.
Senior Kaitlyn Conner averages eight points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists, while junior Nicolette Sellitti adds seven points and five rebounds.
Madonna's roster is completed by junior Amy Davis and freshmen Cameron Dowiak, Leanne Grubbs and Rachel Grubbs.