SPENCER - Clay County's pressure defense forced St. Marys into 34 turnovers here Saturday night at Roane County in the Little Kanawha Conference championship game, but in the end, it was just too much Kendra Walker as the Blue Devils pulled away for a 64-53 victory.
The junior Walker, who finished with game-highs of 31 points, 22 rebounds and tied teammate Ashley Hall with four blocked shots, couldn't be contained in the fourth quarter. That's where the Class A No. 2 Blue Devils (19-1) used a 25-16 posting against the No. 4- ranked double-A Panthers (15-4) to secure their record fourth straight LKC crown.
"We beat a pretty darn good double-A team. I'm just going to enjoy this one," said St. Marys head coach Howard Meeks, who watched Walker actually post a double-double in the fourth quarter alone, thanks to scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 caroms, seven of which were on the offensive end. The Blue Devils owned the glass, finishing with a dominating 58-28 advantage, which included collecting 29 offensive boards.
"It feels really good," said Walker, who stepped up when senior post Audra Clark was saddled with foul trouble for most of the game.
"We just realized this is really important and we pulled together, worked it out and stayed real focused."
St. Marys, which plays host to Gilmer County at 8 p.m. Wednesday in the WVHIT Division I championship game, led 10-2 early, thanks to seven points from Walker and a 3-ball from Abbi Fetty, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three steals.
However, the Panthers got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Brittany Gould for part of her 14 points and led 16-15 after one period.
The game was knotted at 25-all at intermission and St. Marys led 39-37 entering the final eight minutes when the freshman Hall, who had 11 points and nine rebounds, converted a three-point play with 2.5 seconds to go. The Blue Devils never trailed again and the last time it was a two-point affair was when Gould knocked down a 14-foot jumper with 5:21 left in the contest.
Clay County, which shot less than 31 percent and was led by McKinzee Barker's double-double of 15 points and 11 steals, returns to action when Summers County comes to town Monday.
Clark finished with seven points and six boards while Hall and Dani Moore dished out four assists apiece.
In the consolation game that pitted two ranked Class A programs, No. 10 Gilmer County led 4-0 early after Michaela Gumm scored a pair of deuces, but No. 7 Parkersburg Catholic (13-6) never trailed after a Maddie Roedersheimer bucket made it 6-4.
Roedersheimer produced the only double-double, going for game-highs of 15 points and a dozen boards.
The Titans, who dropped to 14-5 and will get a rematch on Monday at PCHS, trailed 10-5 after one quarter, 21-14 at the break and 31-24 entering the fourth period, thanks to Jamie Conrad getting a put-back just before the buzzer sounded to end the third.
In the fourth, Leah Hughes scored two of her 14 points on a baseline jumper off an Alex Schaffer assist as PC led 37-24 with 5:21 remaining. The Crusaderettes connected on 11 of 18 from the charity stripe in the final period.
Schaffer posted nine points and eight rebounds. Hughes had seven rebounds while Catholic's Reily Sturm had five points and a trio of assists.
Julie Bishop led the Titans in scoring with a baker's dozen while Tiffany Young chipped in eight tallies.
Ravenswood's Taylor Youell captured the Top Gun 3-point challenge while Braxton County's Taylor Bragg won the foul-shooting competition for the third time in her career. South Harrison was honored with the sportsmanship award.