By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
Sure, the team isn’t the same.
The leadership isn’t there with just one senior. The nine freshmen on the team prove that most of the key piece are gone. Still, no matter how you slice it, the defending state champion is the defending state champion.
And as North Marion’s girls’ basketball coach Mike Parrish put it Thursday evening after knocking off the Indians at Bridgeport High School, 63-50, “Any time you beat the defending state champs it’s always good.”
It’s certainly better than the alternative, at least.
The Huskies (8-2, 2-1 Big 10) were led by senior forward Anna Marie Moscufo, who scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double.
Asked for the formula for her success, Moscufo put it simply: “Just hustling, rebounding and boxing out.”
While Moscufo was collecting rebounds, Megan Haller took control of the scoring. She put up 18 points.
The sophomore was a key contributor last season for the Huskies, but has continued to show improvement and maturity with each game.
“I had to do a lot of growing up over the summer, especially mentally,” she said. “I had a lot to prepare for because I knew that I had to step up this year. I just tried to expand my game and get a little bit more diversity in how I play.”
It showed Thursday when she connected on two 3-pointers. Then when Bridgeport edged out to take away her outside shooting, Haller took the Indians off the dribble to create her own shot.
“I think she’s progressed a lot,” Moscufo said of her teammate. “She doesn't just run and gun. She works the ball around better and knows when to pass it into the post.”
Freshman guard Presley Tuttle also scored in double figures with 12 points, six of which came in the fourth quarter.
North Marion got off to an early 8-1 lead, but Bridgeport went on a 11-7 run to cut North Marion’s lead to 15-12 at the end of the first quarter. Then in the second, North Marion outscored the Indians 19-10 to take a double-digit lead into halftime.
The defending Class AA champions chipped away at the lead, but were never able to make it closer than a few possessions. North Marion closed it out for its fourth straight win and sixth in seven tries.
The lone loss during that stretch was a 3-point defeat at the hands of Wheeling Park, who just so happens to be the Huskies’ next opponent on Saturday.
The Huskies said they are ready for the rematch.
"We really have got to step it up,” Moscufo said. “We can beat them if we play together and play to our potential."
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.