Parkersburg South tops Woodrow Wilson in state tournament opener

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg South’s Devin Hefner, left, drives the lane as Woodrow Wilson’s Sydni Darden defends during Wednesday’s Class AAA state tournament girls basketball game at the Charleston Civic Center. South won, 55-50.

CHARLESTON — Devin Hefner wasted little time in her re-acclimation to the Charleston Civic Center after a one-year absence during Parkersburg South’s opening-round game of the Class AAA girls’ basketball state tournament Wednesday.

The Patriot senior tallied 17 of her 27 points in the first half and helped a nervous South team withstand a furious second-half rally from Woodrow Wilson in a 55-50 win.

It may have been no coincidence Hefner stepped up as she was the only Patriot with any real tournament experience back during her sophomore season.

Patriot forward Allie Taylor mentioned the bright lights and the perception took a while to get used to and it was obvious from South’s shooting percentage. Outside of Hefner, South players shot just 8 of 32 from the floor for 25 percent.

“I am very grateful Devin plays for us,” said South head coach Ed Davis. “She had a nice game down here against Morgantown a few years ago. Devin is a great leader and great player for us, and she stepped up when we really needed her too. She put in a lot of work in the off-season and I think it paid off.”

Neither team got off a particularly-hot start from the floor. The only points of the first two minutes came on a 3-point bucket from each team and a free-throw make from South’s Makenna Winans. Allie Taylor nailed a shot from downtown 40 seconds into the contest, which was answered by a triple by the Eagles’ Coley Frantz roughly a minute later.

Woodrow’s man-to-man defense and South’s zone scheme did what they were supposed to do in the opening period.

Hefner finally got the Patriots on track when she had a bucket, steal, bucket sequence at the 4:31 mark of the first quarter. Sierra Hays added two of her seven points to push South’s lead to 10-3.

The Eagles didn’t give up and answered back to cut the lead to three by the end of one. Jumpers by Liz Cadle and Victoria Staunton kept Woodrow Wilson close in the opening period.

Hefner didn’t let the Eagles enjoy being close for long. She scored 11 of the first 17 points of the second quarter and helped fuel a 15-2 run over the first three minutes. The lead stretched to 16 points during that time.

South’s run was fueled by four forced turnovers and plenty of inside scoring. South used a 19-2 points off turnovers advantage and 16-8 points in the paint advantage to build a 30-15 halftime lead.

Brian Nabor’s team flipped the script in the second half and pounded the paint to get back in the game.

The Eagles tallied a 22-8 advantage in the lane with Liz Cadle leading the way. After being held to just three points in the opening half, she fueled the Woodrow Wilson comeback with 15 markers in the second half, including 12 in the final period.

“I just decided to play my game,” said Cadle. “The first half, I didn’t play to well. I was kind of playing scared … It was my first time being here and I was nervous at first. Going into the locker room, I thought to myself that is not how I play, so I took over the second half and was much more comfortable.”

Her deuce with 5:55 left in the second cut the deficit to 13, where it stayed the rest of the period.

One of her layups sliced the lead to 10 points with 4:48 to play and then a true jumper left them trailing by five with 50 seconds left. However, South managed to ice the game away by hitting seven of eight free throws over the final minute of the game.

Davis also said switching defenses may have been a mistake.

“They came at us and fortunately we were able to hit our free throws there at the end and were strong with the basketball … We will take it,” said Davis. “We are just thrilled to have an opportunity to play another game.”

The Patriots may see a familiar foe in the semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday, but won’t know until No. 3 Parkersburg and No. 6 Martinsburg play at 7:15 p.m. today.