Defense carries Blue Devils to sectional title

WEST UNION-With its offense struggling and its twin towers-senior Audra Clark and junior Kendra Walker-fighting foul problems, No. 2 St. Marys (22-1) turned to its defense Friday night in the Region I, Section 2 championship game at Doddridge County High School and it paid off as the Blue Devils held Trinity Christian to one point in the third quarter en route to a 52-30 win.

“It (our offense) looked like we shot the ball in our one loss,” St. Marys head coach Howard Meeks II said. “We didn’t play our best, but we got the win and that’s what counts right now.”

With the victory, the Blue Devils will play host to Section One runner-up Magnolia, which lost to Wheeling Central by a 57-34 score, at 7 p.m. on Thursday in one of the two regional championship games.

“I’d be lying if I said we wouldn’t play better at home,” added Meeks. “But, then again, our only loss this year was at home.”

That would not be the case on Friday as Walker and Clark continued their season-long run of double-doubles. Walker, who picked up her fourth foul with 1:47 left in the third quarter, finished with a game-high 20 points and hauled down 10 rebounds while Clark, who was whistled for her fourth at the 4:27 mark of the same quarter, chipped in with 18 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

“I just don’t think we played with the intensity that we talked about playing with in practice,” added Meeks. “I think we got caught looking ahead and when you do that, bad things can happen to you.”

Trinity Christian (13-10) was led by Megan Myers’ 12 points while Jackie Halapy chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds before fouling out with 4:21 left in the game.

St. Marys jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a pair of free throws by Clark and a steal for a layin by Dani Moore with six minutes left in the opening quarter. Trinity answered with a triple from Myers, but found itself trailing by five, 8-3, after a pair of inside buckets by Walker and Clark.

Another triple, this one by Abbie Barnett, sliced the margin to two, 8-6. And, after the teams traded buckets, the Blue Devils took a 12-8 lead to the benches when Walker took a pass from Abby Fetty to score the final points of the period with eight ticks left on the clock.

Trinity opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run to knot the game at 12 on a steal for a layup by Myers, but St. Marys answered with a 10-2 run over the next five and one half minutes to forge a 22-14 lead on a Walker bucket with 2:02 remaining until the intermission. The Blue Devils would maintain that eight point advantage, 26-18, at the half.

That would be as close as the game would get as St. Marys’ turned up the heat on defense and outscored their sectional rivals by a 12-1 margin to jump in front by a 38-19 scored with eight minutes of play remaining.

Trinity, which will play at Wheeling Central next Thursday, got its offense rolling a little bit in the fourth quarter, but it was a case of too little, too late as it was the Blue Devils taking home the sectional championship plaque.

Boys Basketball

Ritchie County 69,

Roane County 62

ELLENBORO -Free throws told the tale as Ritchie County defeated Roane County 69-62 in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Ritchie County took a 51-47 lead into the fourth quarter and maintained the advantage by hitting 10-of-15 free throws in the final eight minutes compared to just 1-of-6 for the Raiders.

Andrew Davis led Ritchie County (17-5) with 21 points, while Justin Sage added 19 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Rebels was D.J. Burgess with 15 points.

Jacob Neal scored a game-high 24 points for Roane County (14-7), while Tyler Harper accounted for 16 points.

The two programs meet again at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Spencer for a Class AA sectional opener.

Ripley 65, Ravenswood 44

RAVENSWOOD -Ripley completed a season sweep of Jackson County rival Ravenswood here Friday night as the Vikings closed out the regular season with a 65-44 win over the visiting Red Devils.

Ripley (7-15) was led by Kade Harrison with 21 points while Drew Harpold added 18 and Casey Smith 12.

Ravenswood got a game-high 27 points from Jake Martin.

Magnolia 66,

Greater Beckley

Christian 58

NEW MARTINSVILLE -Magnolia enters the postseason having won nine in a row after posting a 66-58 victory against Greter Beckley Christian on Friday night.

Magnolia coach Dave Tallman used just five players as the Blue Eagles (18-4) won for the sixth time in eight days.

Against Greater Beckley Christian, Magnolia senior Mark Winters knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 34 points. Also scoring in double figures for the Blue Eagles were Zach Willhoite with 16 points and Preston Boswell with 12 points.

Three players scored in double figures for Greater Beckley Christian, including Javonne Staunton Bailey with a team-high 15 points.