The Lady Toppers Women’s Basketball team went 1-4 over the Christmas break. The Toppers first test was against West Virginia State where the Hilltoppers started the first half strong, outscoring the Lady Jackets 51-42 lead by Morgan Brunner with 14 points, 12 of those being from beyond the three-point arc, Taylor Johnson with 8, and Audrey Tingle scoring 6. As the second half began, the Lady Toppers began to struggle offensively, dropping their field goal percentage of 50% in the first half to 26.8% in the second. While the girls struggled finishing offensively, they hung with West Virginia State keeping the game extremely close until the very end. The Toppers ultimately fell to State 80-87, but stayed optimistic going into their following games over the holiday break.
The Lady Toppers had a difficult task of facing the Walsh Cavaliers on December 18th. Walsh, who took an early lead in the first and second quarter, was capable of holding the Lady Toppers field goal percentage in the first quarter to only 37.5% and the second quarter at only 21.43%. Despite two periods of cold shooting, the Toppers got a surge of scoring in the third quarter, raising their percentage from the 3-point line to 50%, going 6-12. The Toppers were defeated 96-74 and were lead by Corrine Thomas (13 points) and Taylor Johnson (13 points.)
The black and gold traveled to Malone University where they ended their losing streak 82-76. While on the road, Morgan Brunner worked her way to a whopping 30 points in the game, going 7 for 12 from the 3-point line. While the Hilltoppers had a strong starting five scoring night with Johnson having 14 points and Olivia Belknap having 11, the offense of the black and gold intensified with off the bench scoring opportunities. Grace Fodor had 13 points and Corrine Thomas had 12, keeping the Toppers out of Malone’s reach. Substitutions played a major role in the game where West Liberty collected 27 points from substitution players compared to Malone’s 13. The Toppers walked away with a win and were set to be on the road once more to Athens, West Virginia to face an MEC tournament contender.
After breaking a three game losing streak, Coach Kyle Cooper and the Lady Toppers headed to Athens to face Concord University in a MEC matchup. The first half was promising for the black and gold as they stayed tied with the Mountain Lions of Concord. Despite their ability to contest their opponent, turnovers gave Concord ample scoring opportunities with 3 alone in the first quarter and 11 altogether. Leading scorers Johnson, Belknap, and Brunner totaled with 45 of the 71 points scored. Concord edged their way to victory over West Liberty 83-71 and the Toppers were set to return to the ASRC on January 11th, taking on Glenville.
Another tough task faced our Lady Hilltoppers when they faced Glenville on January 11th in the ASRC. The top ranked Pioneers took an early advantage and proved too much for the Hilltoppers despite Brunner dropping 33 points on the night and the Toppers scoring 108 points. The black and gold thrived off of second chance points, 17 of them to be exact, which allowed the Cooper’s women’s team to contest the Pioneers 108-114.
The men of West Liberty’s basketball blew past the West Virginia State Yellow Jackets, outscoring them 112-84. The Toppers were lead by Pat Robinson, 24 points, Dalton Bolon, 21 points, and Will Yoakum, 20 points, while acquiring 37 points off of turnovers and 47 from off the bench substitutions. The first half was fruitle for the Toppers as they shot 50% from the 3-point line and 46.2% from field goal range, holding State to a slow 23.1% from 3 and 35.5% from field goal. The second goal held just as much promise, keeping their shooting percentage fairly the same. West Liberty won the night and were set to face Ohio Valley University five days later at West Liberty.
Another lofty win from Ben Howelt’s Hilltoppers on December 19th proved to be a scoring showcase for many players. The Toppers were able to score many off the bench points from their offensive minded substitutes. While two standout starters, Yoakum and Bolon totaled for 29 on the night, Pat Robinson (17 points,) Owen Hazelbaker (16 points) and Malik McKinney (14 points) proved the scoring capabilities of the Topper powerhouse. The Topper’s largest lead, 50 points, fell towards the end of the game, totaling103 against Ohio Valley University’s 55.
Christmas came early for the men’s basketball team as they were gifted with not only another home game, but another large win against Ohio Dominican University. Despite being another scoring outing for the Toppers, defense proved to be even more of a threat for opponents. Luke Dyer, Malik McKinney, and Bryce Butler each had 3 steals for the night to contribute to West Liberty’s 18 steals. The Hilltoppers outscored Ohio Dominican 105-61.
West Liberty, now holding a four-game win streak, went on the road to Athens, WV. to face Concord University in a MEC matchup. The Toppers were lead by Dalton Bolon (22 points) and Preston Boswell (19 points) in their victory over the Mountain Lions. Despite the score being tied seven times with thirteen lead changes, the Hilltoppers were able to rally past Concord by scoring an impressive 49 points from substitutions, stealing 9 passes from the Mountain Lions, and having a rather poor shooting percentage for the night, but was able to find a way to win.
The Toppers finished off their holiday break game schedule with five impressive wins. The last test of their break came as the Glenville Pioneers visiting the hilltop. The Toppers were led to victory by Yoakum (33 points,) Malik McKinney (20 points) and Pat Robinson (18 points.) Their surge of scoring came early as the Toppers managed to bucket 83 points in the first half alone. Defensively, West Liberty was able to hold Glenville to under 50% from shooting for the whole night and forced 12 turnovers and scored 42 points from them. West Liberty’s final win over the holidays meant a 129-89 victory over the Pioneers of Glenville.