By JOHN ANDERSON
When the 2020-2021 season began for the Wellsville girls’ basketball team, coach Michelle Alvord boasted this was the deepest team she has ever coached with great players on the entire roster.
As the undefeated season went on, the team had a huge challenge and trailed rival Olean by 10 points. Olean had a great press and a solid inside-outside game going.
Enter Jaelyn Knapp.
The senior was not only consistent when the team got down, she stayed consistent and the go-to player for the comeback. Once Wellsville got the lead on Knapp’s shoulders, the rest of the Lions knocked down 3-pointers, inside shots and made big defensive plays.
Wellsville remained undefeated at 6-0 with a 52-47 victory.
Knapp, who had 17 points and eight rebounds, played aggressive, but never played out of control.
“It’s my senior year, I thought, “I might as well give it my all and leave it all on the court.’ We don’t focus on one player, we focus on our team,” Knapp said.
Senior Marley Adams who had 11 points and six rebounds said they stuck to the game plan.
“Olean worked hard and gave us incentive,” Adams said. “We wanted to run on them and get them in foul trouble and that’s what we did to get ahead. I wasn’t really looking at the scoreboard, but we knew we were down and we had to pick it up. We came out, got them in foul trouble and scored our points.
“This team sees the floor pretty good, everyone does their part, the cut to the ball and shoot it and score,” Adams added.
However, Adams found Knapp inside as did the several guards Alvord rotated in and out. Adams said Knapp was always getting open and scoring.
“I am always looking for her down there, tonight, she cut, I hit her and ‘bam’ that’s the basket!” Adams added.
Alvord added, “She had 10 of our 12 points in the second quarter. She had led us in many games. She had 17, and two others had double digits. That’s the key, we have three in double digits and our seniors never let them hang their heads. Kaylee Coleman (eight rebounds) got in foul trouble, but she played hard and was a leader.
“When Jaelyn gets out on that break, she knows how to finish up the play. We were getting the looks we wanted, but we could not really find a way to finish it,” Alvord continued. “That’s when Jaelyn stepped up, and finished. Olean couldn’t handle us down inside, and when we were able to finally slow it down and get it to the inside, we had some nice finishes. It was what I expected.”
When Olean took the lead, Alvord called a time out and joked “plain and simple, everyone just had to be in their spots! They had to fill where they are supposed to go, be aggressive and attack. Catch, turn, look and be aggressive. That time out was to get it together and let them know to attack.”
Alvord said several players who did not score double digits were also the key to the victory.
“Emily Robbins did a nice job handling the offense and taking charge and making big shots,” Alvord said. “Jalynn Mess stepped up with some big plays on defense and transition. She made those extra passes you don’t notice that lead to points. She came up with big rebounds in the fourth quarter.”
Freshman Makenna Dunbar looked every part of a freshman early on, but Alvord stayed with the young center and it paid off. Dunbar not only continued to dominate on the glass, in the second half, she made perfect decisions with the ball in the paint to score or draw fouls. Dunbar finished with a double-double, 10 points, 12 rebounds and added two blocks.
“She did a great job and also came up with some big rebounds,” Alvord added.
Guards Emily Costello and Emily Robbins each had six points as Robbins drained two three-pointers.
Wellsville will look to defend their Coaches v. Cancer Tournament championship against Newark Valley on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. in Bath. The winner will face either Penn Yan or Bath-Haverling on Wednesday.
Olean 7 15 13 12 – 47
Wellsville 8 12 15 17 – 52
OLEAN: Jojo Gibbons 1 0-2 2, Anayah Parks-Parker 1 0-0 2, Jez Fayson 5 3-4 15, Olivia Kratts 2 0-3 5, Leah Williams 8 1-6 23. Totals: 17 4-14 47.
WELLSVILLE: Marley Adams 5 1-2 11, Jaylynn Mess 0 0-2 0, Emily Costello 3 0-0 6, Jaelyn Knapp 6 5-5 17, Emily Robbins 2 0-0 6, Kaylee Coleman 1 0-1 2, Makenna Dunbar 4 2-3 10. Totals: 21 8-13 52.
3-point goals: Olean 9 (Williams 6, Fayson 2, Kratts), Wellsville 2 (Robbins).
Total Fouls: Olean 17, Wellsville 13. Fouled out: None.
JV GAME: Wellsville won, 44-19. Lindsay Stuck scored 15 points, Jaden Dunbar had 14 and Maddy Parks scored nine.