ELLENBORO Upsets were for the taking, but Parkersburg Catholic and Williamstown managed to survive a pair of wire-to-wire tests in the semifinal round of the Class A, Region IV, Section 1 tournament played Tuesday night at Ritchie County High School.
In the first game of a girls varsity doubleheader, Wirt County had its confrontation against Parkersburg Catholic within one possession on several occasions in the final 4 minutes before the Crusaderettes prevailed 44-38.
In the nightcap, Williamstown played the final 4:20 of regulation without it two leading scorers after both fouled out and still managed to fend off Gilmer County's 3-point shooting with an 82-78 victory.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Williamstown's Kathleen Cornell, left, looks for a teammate to pass to as Gilmer's Tiffany Young, center, and Jamie Conrad, right, apply defensive pressure Tuesday during their Class A sectional tournament game in Ellenboro.
Parkersburg Catholic and Williamstown will meet for the third time this season in Thursday's sectional final, which is slated for a 7 p.m. start in Ellenboro. The two schools split a pair of regular-season meetings.
PCHS 44, Wirt County 38
Despite trailing by as many as 14 points in the early stages of the third quarter, Wirt County never faded away.
A 6-0 run midway in the fourth quarter sliced the deficit to 40-38, but the Tigers did not find the bottom of the net again in the final 4 minutes.
One of the more important stops for PCHS (15-6) occurred with just 2 minutes remaining in regulation and Wirt County point guard Miriam Smith making a move down low on the baseline. However, Crusaderette senior Maddie Roedersheimer blocked Smith's shot and maintained her balance as she gathered in the defensive rebound.
Moments later, PCHS playmaker Rachel Nill found Leah Hughes open for two PCHS points and a 42-38 lead with just under two minutes showing on the clock.
Roedersheimer and Hughes each added a free throw as the Crusaderettes swept both meetings from the Tigers this season. In December at the Mary 'O' Crusaderette Classic, the outcome wasn't quite as close as PCHS defeated Wirt County 53-31.
Hughes, who has since recovered from injuring her right knee against Gilmer County 10 days ago in the Little Kanawha Conference Night of Champions, led the Crusaderettes with 18 points and five rebounds. Both Hughes and teammate Alex Schaffer knocked down three 3-pointers. Schaffer also scored in double figures with 15 points.
"I was real pleased with the way Alex responded for us," PCHS coach Marty Vierheller said. "For her first game back after being hurt, Leah did a nice job also."
Smith paced Wirt County (8-16) with 16 points, while Kayla Kinney pulled down 10 rebounds to go with eight points.
"Wirt County coach Lijiah Heiney did a good job of switching his defenses early in the game," Vierheller said. "The lack of fluidity and the lack of defensive drive on our part surprised me. We were lethargic and we couldn't seem to snap out of it.
"We couldn't get from much separation from them."
Gilmer County 78
The only meeting between the Yellowjackets and Titans this season involved nine lead changes. Williamstown (11-9) went in front to stay on Sami Rea's only field goal of the night - a 3-pointer with 2:50 left in the fourth quarter which left Gilmer County trailing 72-70.
Gilmer County (15-8), which combined for seven 3-pointers, looked for another to drop from Morgan Allen. Instead, Williamstown hauled in the defensive rebound and Jesse Kerns tossed in two of her eight points for a 74-70 advantage.
The Titans put the Yellowjackets at the line the rest of the way and Williamstown maintained the four-point differential at 78-74 before Gilmer County made one final push on a putback by Alexus Sprouse followed by another two-pointer from Allen to tie the contest at 78 with 24 seconds showing.
Almost instantaneously, Williamstown raced downcourt and Rea found Lauren Amos open for an easy lay-in. As soon as Gilmer County inbounded the ball, Carley Ellison picked off the pass then retrieved her own miss for the final bucket of the game, for her team-high 21st point.
Also scoring in double figures for Williamstown were Kenzie Smith and Kathleen Cornell with 19 points apiece.
"Our kids got it done with their defense and got it done making some timely plays," Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said after his ballclub forced 30 turnovers. "I am just proud of the way we played together, especially at the end."
Julie Bishop accounted for 27 of Gilmer points, while Allen pitched in 24 points.