Bartlett catches fire for South

PARKERSBURG – As many knockout punches Parkersburg South’s Keya Bartlett threw, George Washington would not go down without a fight.

Bartlett finished two shy of matching a school record after making seven 3-pointers and finished with 32 points in a 68-64 victory against George Washington Monday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

“Keya was that girl on fire,” South coach Scott Stephens said. “She was hot tonight. She was putting them in when she had the opportunity.

“They weren’t leaving her real open and there were people in her face on several of those shots she stuck in there.”

The sophomore missed only two attempts from beyond the arc the entire game, but her Patriots were pushed to the brink as George Washington sliced what was once a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to one point (65-64) with just under two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

South’s Taryn McCutcheon, who was 10-of-14 from the charity stripe, made two straight free throws with 50.1 seconds showing to extend the gap to 67-64 then came up with one of her four steals with 17 seconds ticks left on the clock. Despite missing both ends of a two-shot foul, the freshman managed to grab her own offensive rebound.

At 6.4 seconds, McCutcheon sealed the win by making the front end of a two-shot personal and finished the game with 14 points and seven assists.

Parkersburg South improved to 13-6 and will travel to St. Clairsville on Wednesday for an OVAC contest. George Washington, which received a team-high 27 points from Rachel Ward, drops to 13-7.

“At the end, I was certainly sweating it,” Stephens said. “Our kids are young and this is a good experience for them – hanging onto a lead and trying to figure out how to finish up and win one.”

South trailed on just one occasion in the game after Ward’s bucket 30 seconds into the contest put GW in front 2-0. The host Patriots took the lead for good by converting all six free-throw attempts as part of an 8-2 run. The margin expanded to 19-9 when reserve Katelyn Byrd converted a McCutcheon assist with 25 seconds left in the opening quarter.

GW whittled away at the deficit and trailed 27-22 when Bartlett knocked down three consecutive treys as part of an 11-5 run just before the conclusion of the first half. By intermission, Bartlett finished with 23 points on 5-of-5 from 3-point land, then attempted just four shots from the floor in the second half.

The high-water mark of the second half for South occurred with 2:06 remaining in the third quarter and the host Patriots leading 53-36. Three minutes into the fourth quarter, the difference was still double-digits at 61-48 when GW began its surge. Kayla Stewart, who finished with 17 points, nailed a trey at the 1:45 mark of the final period to trim South’s advantage to 65-64.

“A game like this teaches you a lot more than where you win by 20 or more points,” Stephens said. “This is a good learning experience. You know if you relax against good teams like GW, they are going to find a way to get back into it. They never quit.”