After West Holmes rolled over Dover by 61 points last Thursday, coach Lisa Patterson tempered her enthusiasm. She noted that the Knights will get a true test of where they stand on Saturday when they travel to Shaker Heights to take on the four-time defending state champion Blazers of Hathaway Brown, a team that returns its entire starting five from last year's champions.
If the 49-45 win posted by the Knights over the Blazers is any indication of how good this West Holmes team is, opponents better look out.
Junior Laina Snyder turned in a monster game, pouring in 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds to lead the Knights. The 6-foot-1 post hit a pair of free throws with eight seconds remaining to give West Holmes the lead, and she iced the game with two more freebies with less than a second remaining when she grabbed a rebound off an errant last-second attempt to tie by the Blazers' Vanessa Smith.
The Knights jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first eight points of the game. Snyder hit a 3-pointer and scored inside, pumping in nine first-quarter points as the visitors opened up a 17-7 advantage with just under a minute remaining in the first period.
The Blazers clawed their way back into the game, scoring the final five points of the opening frame, and then scoring the first 11 of the second stanza to take a 23-17 lead midway through the second.
Paiten Strother stroked a 3-pointer, and after Hathaway Brown split a pair of free throws, Snyder scored on back-to-back trips down the floor to knot things at 24.
Rachelle Morrison answered a Blazer bucket to pull West Holmes even at 26-26 at intermission.
The Knights continued to surge ahead on baskets by Mallori Vess and Snyder to start the second half. Morrison swished a triple to give the visitors a 33-26 lead before the hosts scored back-to-back baskets to pull within 33-30.
Alex Starr came off the West Holmes bench and hit consecutive layups to stretch the lead back to seven.
A three-point play by Morrison, who joined Snyder in double digits with 10 points, gave the Knights an eight-point edge inside the final minute of the third quarter.
Smith, who paced the Blazers with 19 points, scored the final bucket of the frame to cut the West Holmes lead to six heading into the fourth quarter.
A turnover and two missed free throws by the Knights enabled Hathaway Brown to pull back within two (44-42).
Nia Marshall, who added 12 points for the 2-2 Blazers, split a pair of free throws and Smith added pair off a West Holmes turnover to even the score at 45-45 with 1:55 to play.
The Knights misfired on a pair of shots and Hathaway Brown came up empty on its next trip down the floor.
Snyder was fouled grabbing an offensive rebound with 15 seconds remaining, giving the Knights the ball under their own basket. Snyder was fouled going in for the go-ahead score and hit the front end of the bonus and the second shot as well to give the guests a 47-45 edge with eight seconds to play.
Smith drove to the hoop but came up empty and Snyder was fouled as she grabbed her ninth board of the game. She hit the resulting free throws and gave the Knights their third win of the season without a loss.
Strother finished with seven points to help the West Holmes cause.