ST. MARYS-All season long the lingering question surrounding the No. 2 (Class A) Blue Devils from St. Marys was, 'Could this team beat someone from outside the paint?"
That question was answered, at least for one night, as senior Abbi Fetty and freshman Ashley Hall combined for 33 points-21 coming on seven treys-as St. Marys thumped unranked Magnolia (11-13) by a 70-29 margin Thursday night to advance to the Class A state tournament which begins at the Charleston Civic Center next Wednesday morning.
"We've been asking kids to step out of their comfort zone all season long," said St. Marys head coach Howard Meeks II. "We told Abbi (Fetty) during one of the timeouts that she was being too much of a floor general and we needed her to step up and make some shots."
Photo by Jim Butta
St. Marys’ Kendra Walker (34) and Audra Clark (42) share a bear hug following the Blue Devils’ 70-29 victory over Magnolia in the Class A, Region I championship game.
The senior responded with a game-high 17 points as the Blue Devils improved to 23-1 on the season. Hall, who nailed four triples on the night, contributed 16 points while Kendra Walker and Michaela Britton chipped in with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
"We've grown a lot during the season," added Meeks. "This isn't the same team that opened the year. We've got kids who can make shots. They've just got to have the confidence to go out and take them."
And, take them, the Blue Devils did.
Magnolia kept things close during the first eight minutes of action as junior Mallory Chapman and sophomore Katie Blatt connected for buckets while sophomore Audrey Gibb make good on 3-of-4 from the free throw line to help the Blue Eagles head into the second quarter of play trailing by only five, 12-7.
The game continued to remain relatively close as St. Marys took a nine-point, 26-17, lead into the locker rooms at the intermission thanks to five points apiece from Fetty and Hall.
That would be as close as the visitors would get, however, as St. Marys opened the second half with an 18-4 run and never looked back in upping its mark to 23-1 on the season.
"I thought we did a good job of defending," said the coach. "And, we did a good job of controlling the boards and limiting the number of second shots they were able to get."
Controlling the boards, as they normally do, were Walker and senior Audra Clark. Walker finished with a game-high 15 rebounds while Clark added 14 caroms and nine points.
Magnolia was led in scoring by Chapman, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, and freshman Grace Berisford, who scored all 10 of her points in the third quarter.
"This is great for the kids," said Meeks. "They have worked so hard to get to this point. Now, we will see where we are seeded on Sunday and find out what time we will play our first game in Charleston."