Big Reds repeat
PHS girls hold on to beat University in state final
CHARLESTON — Class AAA third seed University entered on a euphoric high the state championship game. David Price’s Hawks earned the right to play for the program’s first title after a grueling 65-60 victory over No. 2 Greenbrier East less than 24 hours prior.
Defending state champion Parkersburg awaited the Region I co-champion equally enthusiastic over its repeat opportunity.
The worst kept secret in the Mountain State after the 2018 title game? Parkersburg expected to be back under the bright lights Saturday night as all key pieces returned to the court.
University’s trip to the final game of the season? Armed guards followed Price around as the secret his team would play for a championship sat in a locked briefcase handcuffed to his wrist.
He and his girls knew something the rest of the state discovered over 32 minutes against the unanimous No. 1 team in the classification most of the season.
His girls believed they could play with anyone. Through three quarters the Hawks went blow for blow with PHS, they outrebounded, outhustled, and outworked the reigning champions. Defensively, they held standouts Shay-Lee Kirby and Madi Mace to a combined 21 points, but they couldn’t figure out Bre Wilson.
Wilson, who missed last year’s championship game with a torn ACL, buried six deep 3s as part of a 27-point effort. The Big Reds’ junior forward did not just bury her triples.
Her shots came in big moments as University appeared poised for possible runs to pull even with or away from the Big Reds.
“I guess it is just comfortable for me to shoot from right there,” said Wilson. “We shoot from there in practice and it helps a lot during the game.”
Her standout performance was a huge reason PHS repeated as state champions with a 63-52 victory over the Hawks.
“First let’s congratulate University on the run they made,” said Cozzens in his opening statement. “They played us as well as anybody has since last year’s final. They are one of the few teams we faced that some of our pressure didn’t phase them much. So, we just had to find a way to take advantage of what we do in other ways. Hats off to the kids every time they faced adversity, they have worked past it.
Parkersburg High’s juniors wanted to send the seniors out with a title and get three in a row, but University did not lay down and give them anything.
Ashten Boggs and her teammates played to a 27-25 halftime lead. Zoe Murphy’s 3-pointer gave the Hawks a 10-3 advantage with 2:48 left in the opening period. Three straight treys from Bre Wilson pushed the Big Reds out in front after eight minutes. University refused to give in after the 9-2 onslaught. Boggs’ connection on both 1 and 1 shots with 48 seconds remaining sent University into the locker room with confidence.
“We just kept playing trying to make the game our game,” said Price, whose team handled the Big Reds pressure well in the opening half.
Things went south in the final seconds of the third period. University possessed the ball out of a timeout with five seconds left on the clock with an opportunity for a final shot. Instead, Parkersburg’s Kristen Lowers stole the inbounds pass then converted a layup on the other end for a 41-37 lead. Wilson added another of her 3s in the final period but PHS largely iced the game in the final quarter with free throw attempts. The Big Reds converted 9 of 12 attempts in the closing quarter.
“I just think we ran out of bodies and Parkersburg proved why they are a championship team,” said Price, who also wasn’t happy with his team’s shot selection in the final eight minutes. His team shot just 5 of 15 in the closing period as PHS hit 6 of 10 shots.
Boggs while not happy with the loss found a silver lining in defeat.
“I am really proud of how far our team has come,” said Boggs, who scored 13 points. “We proved so many people wrong. We lost that game put we gave them one heck of a game. If we lose that is how I want to go out, I don’t want it to be a blowout I want it to be a close game. Knowing where our team has come from losing in the first game of sectional last year to playing in the state championship game just shows how hard working we are.”
The night proved especially sweet for the Big Reds’ Kirby. Her pair of free throws with 5:51 left in the final quarter sent her past Heather Hopkins as the school’s all-time leading score. An accomplishment many around the program were unsure she would reach after suffering an ankle injury against Tecumseh late in the regular season.
“I do it for my team,” said Kirby simply when asked about the achievement.
Overall, PHS added state championship 140 to the trophy case after the victory.
Class AAA state championship
Parkersburg 63, University 52
UHS 16 11 10 15 — 52
PHS 17 8 16 22 — 63
Zoe Murphy 5-12 1-2 15, Ashten Boggs 4-12 5-6 13, Selena Jenkins 1-5 0-0 2, Abbie Coen 2-5 0-0 4, Mallory Napolillo 6-13 2-4 14, Jaimalyn Ash 0-1 0-0 0, Lauren Dean 1-2 2-2 4, Isabella Bowers 0-0 0-0 0, Sierra Lanham 0-0 0-0 0, Lindsey Vorndran 0-0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 19-50 10-14 52; 3-point goals: Murphy 4-11, Boggs 0-3, Jenkins 0-2, Coen 0-1, Dean 0-1
Maddi Leggett 0-3 3-4 3, Aleea Crites 3-8 0-0 6, Shay-Lee Kirby 4-11 3-4 11, Bre Wilson 10-15 1-1 27, Madi Mace 2-14 5-8 10, Kristen Lowers 1-2 0-0 2, Meredith Martin 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Kupfner 0-0 0-0 0, Tavien Clark 0-1 0-0 0, Anna Umpleby 0-0 0-0 0, Maggie Richards 2-4 0-1 4; TOTALS: 22-58 12-18 63; 3-point goals: Leggett 0-1, Crites 0-2, Kirby 0-6, Wilson 6-10, Mace 1-3, Lowers 0-1
Shooting: U 19-50 (38%), P 22-58 (37.9%); 3-pointers: U 4-18, P 7-23; Rebounds: U 40 (Napolillo 10), P 32 (Mace, Richards 8); Assists: U 11 (Boggs 4, Murphy 3), P 14 (Mace 5, Leggett 4, Kirby 3); Steals: U 14 (Napolillo 5), P 18 (Mace 6, Wilson 4); Blocks: U 2 (Dean 2), P4 (Crites 2, Kirby, Mace 1); Turnovers: U 24, P 21
Note: Kirby passed Heather Hopkins as Parkersburg’s all-time scoring leader
Class AAA all-tournament team: PHS: Kirby, Mace, Crites; UHS: Napolillo, Boggs, Murphy; Greenbrier East: Haley McClure; South Charleston: Maliha Witten