South routs Hampshire, 80-33, in AAA quarterfinal

CHARLESTON – West Virginia high school sports history is filled with stories of no-chance underdogs who knock off the overwhelming favorite in a hard-to-believe upset.

This is not one of those stories.

Top-ranked and undefeated Parkersburg South made its debut at the West Virginia State High School Girls Basketball Tournament on Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center against No. 8 seed Hampshire and the result was a blowout as the defending state champion Patriots raised their record to 24-0 with a dominating 80-33 victory over a game but totally overmatched opponent.

Hampshire’s only lead came before the game started – yes, you read that right. The Patriots were assessed a pre-game technical foul for entering an incorrect number in the official scorebook and Hampshire’s Emilynn Corbin sunk the free throw for a 1-0 lead that didn’t last long as South scored the next seven points – including four by Keya Bartlett, who finished with 10 points.

By the 2:12 mark of the opening stanza, it was 14-3 Patriots and this one looked like a total mismatch. But Hampshire, which ended its season at 12-12, fought its way back, scoring not only the final five points of the initial stanza, but also the first three points of the second quarter. It was 14-11 South and no one wearing a red, white and blue uniform was happy.

That’s when the Patriots went on a – this is no misprint – 32-1 run to end the quarter. It was during that incredible streak that Patriot standout sophomore Taryn McCutcheon – who had 16 points at the time – took a hard hit to the face and had to come out of the game. She didn’t return to action, but did return to the South bench. Coach Scott Stephens said after the game she had some sinus issues with her breathing. She played just 12 minutes but still took game scoring honors by two points over Hampshire’s Corbin, who led the Trojans with 14 points.

Stephens used the second half to clear his bench and allow his reserves to get some much-deserved playing time and they took full advantage of it. Mykalyn Fallon contributed eight points, Katleyn Enoch six, and Amber Cottrell five. In all, 13 Patriots broke into the scoring column, with Anna Hayton joining McCutcheon and Bartlett in double figures with 12. Carlie Wilson was a workhorse on the boards for South, hauling down 14 rebounds and helping limit Hampshire to one-shot possessions.

Stephens, while disappointed in his team’s shooting (the Patriots were 29 of 74 from the field, including 5 of 22 from behind the 3-point line, and uncharacteristically missed nine of its 26 free throws), was tickled for South’s reserves, who he constantly praises for pushing the starters in practice and credits for the Patriots having a strong program from top to bottom.

In addition to the 34-1 run, South also stole the ball 26 times to just a single steal for Hampshire. The Patriots forced 37 Hampshire turnovers.

In the only other Class AAA game on Wednesday, No. 2 seed Greenbrier East eliminated No. 7 Cabell Midland, 48-38, with two players accounting for all but six of the Spartans points. Chante McDowell led coach Jim Justice’s team with 23 points while Sydney Nunley added 19. South met Greenrbier East on Feb. 1 in the championship game of the Big Atlantic Classic, a 48-39 Patriot victory.

South gets to scout its semifinal opponent today as No. 4 seed South Charleston plays No. 5 Martinsburg at 11:15 a.m.

The winner of that game will meet the Patriots at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with the winner advancing to Saturday’s 7:15 p.m. state championship game which will be televised live.