First-quarter spurt solidifies win for South

PARKERSBURG – It must be nice to be playing with a double-digit lead less than six minutes into a basketball game.

That was the scenario Scott Stephens’ No. 1-ranked Parkersburg South girl cagers gave him in the first quarter versus visiting No. 10 Morgantown Wednesday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

And the Patriots used that good start as the impetus for a 58-42 victory and run the defending Class AAA state champions’ record to 12-0 on the season.

South sprinted from an early 5-2 deficit into a controlling 19-7 lead by the close of the first quarter.

First, Keya Bartlett drained a trey to knot score at 5, then went end-to-end on a break for a 7-5 lead at 6:36. Then on a 12-2 to end the period, Taryn McCutcheon drilled a 3-ball, Anna Hayton added a rebound bucket, Bartlett had a steal for a three-point play, McCutcheon fed Bartlett on a break for a hoop and Carlie Wilson’s two free throws at 1:10 made it already a 12-point lead heading into just the second stanza.

“That was a great way to start; we really got it going there,” said Stephens, who then saw his charges continue with a 16-12 second-quarter advantage to open a 35-19 gap by halftime.

And a 15-10 third period in South’s favor hiked the spread to a commanding 50-29 lead with still eight minutes to be played.

The Patriots held as much as a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter before Morgantown tallied the final four points to reduce the final margin to 16.

McCutcheon’s 17 points led the way for South, with Bartlett netting 15, Katelyn Byrd 10, and both Wilson and Mykalyn Fallon with five, while for the Mohigans, now 9-6, Rachel Laskody scored eight, and four others all finished with five.

Stephens’ crew is now off to Beckley today to face current Class AA No. 1 Westside in the Big Atlantic Classic. A win could end up matching the Patriots against No. 2 AAA Greenbrier East in the tournament on Saturday.

Then, it’s back home on Monday for South to meet Morgantown again at 7:30 p.m. in the OVAC playoff semifinals as the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds, respectively. The winner advances to next Saturday’s championship contest while the loser plays in the consolation tilt on Thursday against the No. 3 seed Indian Creek at second-seeded University loser from the other semifinal.