by Will Gilbert
West Side seniors Alli Broadway and Bryanna Smith combined for 38 points as the Lady Eagles stretched their winning steak to six by defeating Conway St. Joseph 61-53 on Friday night at Brady-Hipp Arena in Greers Ferry.
Spearheading West Side’s full court pressure, Broadway turned several steals into layups for herself and teammates. The gritty point guard scored a team-high 21 points. Despite drawing double teams since her sophomore year, Smith reached 1500 career points when she made a pair of free throws early in the first quarter. The talented post player finished with 17 for the game.
St. Joseph guard Amber Briggler (21 points) and post player Joanie Elisnger (17 points) also combined for 38 points, but West Side’s other starters helped push the Lady Eagles over the top as guards Kaitlin Towell and Ciara Roberson each chipped in nine points, while forward Faith Birmingham contributed five.
The lead changed hands seven times in the first half. West Side used an 11-0 run to open up an early lead, but the visiting Lady Bulldogs whittled their deficit to seven heading into the second quarter.
St. Joseph opened the second stanza with an 11-0 spurt featuring six points from Elsinger and culminating with a corner three launched by Mary Hartman.
Trailing 19-15, West Side used a timeout to regroup. Following the break in action, Smith ripped a three then Roberson picked a steal and passed ahead to Broadway for a layup. The Lady Eagles took a 23-21 lead when Towell drained a three, but Briggler answered with a three.
Elsinger, who scored nine of her 17 points in the second quarter, recorded a rebound basket off a missed free throw to give St. Joseph a 27-23 lead at intermission.
Broadway gave the Lady Eagles a big boost in the third quarter, sinking a 17-foot baseline jumper then quickly stealing the inbound pass and scoring two more to tie it up. St. Joseph responded with a 9-2 run before Broadway cut loose with seven consecutive, starting with a corner three.
Broadway grabbed a loose ball and scored inside then she picked a steal and drove the floor for a layup. West Side took the lead when Smith rattled home a three and the Lady Eagles made it 12 straight on a follow shot by Birmingham.
Briggler, who sank four three pointers, connected from beyond the arch to cut West Side’s lead to one at 40-39 entering the final eight minutes of play.
A set shot from guard Erin Sterka pushed St. Joseph in front 44-43 with just over five minutes remaining, but West Side took over down the stretch as Broadway sank a free throw and Towell scored in transition off a defensive rebound and assist by Birmingham.
After a steal by Broadway, Towell made a tough off-balance shot, then Towell came away with a steal that led to a pair of free throws by Birmingham as West Side pushed its lead to 50-44.
The Lady Bulldogs (9-12) pulled within four on a stick back from Elsinger, but West Side (16-11) put the game away on Smith’s 18-foot jumper followed by two free throws from Broadway.