Steele’s defensive effort lifts West Valley girls to 51-35 NAL-opening win over Anderson

West Valley’s Maddie Steele, pictured from Friday’s tournament game against Sutter, had 11 points and eight steals in the 51-35 win over Anderson at home on Tuesday. (Photo by Mike Daly/Shasta County Sports)

COTTONWOOD – When Maddie Steele’s in front of you, good luck trying to dribble around her.

Tuesday night’s matchup between inner district rivals Anderson and West Valley girls saw the Eagles come out on top 51-35 in the first Northern Athletic League game of the season.

Steele — her last name may be that for a reason. Steele came into Tuesday night’s matchup averaging three steals per contest. Tuesday night against the Cubs she had eight. Steele is a dual-threat and delivered another outstanding performance on both ends of the floor, finishing the game with 11 points and eight steals.

The ability to move her feet quickly and sneaky hands causes all sorts of trouble when trying to dribble past her. The Eagles lockdown defender was able to rip it from the opposing player all night.

“With Maddie being such a presence on defense and controlling our offense, getting it inside to me and Ash we were able to come out with the win,” West Valley forward Jenna Adkins said.

The ‘Twin Towers’ pair of Adkins and Ashlee Lewis stood tall again. Adkins had 10 boards while Lewis had six. Lewis did most of her damage in the fourth quarter with 9 of her 16 points coming from crashing the offensive glass and from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter. Adkins finished with a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Eagles jumped out to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter due in part of their ability to force turnovers. They applied the pressure early and never let up. Steele started ripping pockets off early which led to several fast break buckets. By intermission the Eagles had a comfortable lead at 27-11.

The second half the Cubs would battle back. They came out of the half outscoring the Eagles 10-2 midway through the third. That was answered by West Valley’s own 6-0 run to close out the quarter. Anderson would get as close as 10 in the fourth but West Valley would go on to win 51-35.

“Our guards are wonderful; we have Steele who’s our floor leader, lots of assists, lots of steals, lots of positive play for us,” West Valley coach Lenny Ehn said. “Jasee (Heacock) our sophomore stepped right up and fit in. They never take a play off. They’re the straw that stirs us. We get the ball to the post a lot for points and rebounds but they really set the stage.”

For Anderson it was Crysta Papesh shouldering the load for her team with 16 points but fouled out early with nearly five minutes still remaining in the game. Although West Valley made it as difficult as possible for her to get those points.

“We tried to keep pressure on them. We knew Crysta was a good scorer and good ball player. We tried to find her every time and limit her touches.” said Ehn on his team’s defense strategy.

West Valley improves to 1-0 to start NAL league and hosts Lassen Thursday night in Cottonwood.

Anderson falls to 0-1 to start league play and faces U-Prep Friday.

West Valley 51, Anderson 35
Anderson 6-5-12-12—35
West Valley 18-9-10-14—51
Anderson (8-11, 0-1 NAL): Papesh 16, Rosales 8, Epperson 6, Kincaid 3, Frank 2, Larson 2.
West Valley (9-9, 1-0 NAL): Lewis 16, Steele 11, Heacock 10, Adkins 10, Matthews 4
3-pointers—Anderson 1 (Papesh) West Valley 2 (Heacock, Steele)

About Max Keokhamdy

Freelance journalist

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