Highlanders hold on to beat Trinity, look to complete perfect season

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Webster County's Cole Taylor, pictured here defending Trinity's Daniel Woods, finished with a game-high 20 points and 12 rebounds to help lift the Highlanders to a 45-42 victory against the Warriors on Friday afternoon in a Class A state semifinal.

CHARLESTON — Top-seeded Webster County used a dominating effort on the glass to help pull out a 45-42 triumph early Friday afternoon in the Class A state semifinals as the Highlanders improved to 27-0 after holding off fifth-seeded Trinity.

For the first time in Little Kanawha Conference history, two programs will meet for the state championship as the Highlanders of head coach Mike Gray face an all too familiar opponent in No. 6 seed Parkersburg Catholic.

“That’s a great team and the (Cade) Ullman kid is a really great shooter,” said Gray, whose squad will tip at high noon today as they try to become the sixth Class A program to go undefeated and the first since Paden City did such in 1987.

“They are going to be hard to handle. They struggled a little bit with our defense (in the 58-42 LKC title game loss) too. We pick up kids at half court in our 2-3 zone. That’s going to be something they have to work on.”

In an affair which was 34-all heading to the fourth, it was Drew Holcomb’s bucket from the block which gave Webster County the lead for good at 38-36 with six minutes to go.

Dorian Groggs, who had a dozen counters, converted the next hoop with 3:27 remaining, a 3 which hit the iron, the glass and then rolled around the cylinder and dropped for a 41-36 advantage.

“I was like shooter’s roll, shooter’s roll,” Groggs said of the key trifecta. “It’s amazing. It’s amazing. This has been my dream ever since I was a kid.

“All of our dreams, going to the state championship and maybe winning. We want to win and I’ll try my hardest.”

A steal by Logo Zervos resulted in his lone field goal, which cut the deficit to three at the 2:56 mark.

The next points didn’t come until 55.5 was left on the clock and Cole Taylor canned a pair of free throws. Taylor hit 8 of 14 field goals and produced a game-high 20 points while tying Holcomb for game-high rebounding honors with a dozen.

Down but not out, the Warriors (22-5) of head man John Fowkes got a deep 3 from Joel Robertson, who had a team-high 16 points, to close to within 43-41 with 44 ticks left.

Trinity pivot Daniel Woods, who had 11 markers, had a chance to tie the game with 21.7 to go but made 1 of 2 from the foul line. A pair of foul shots from Tyler Gray with 19.7 remaining set the final score.

“It’s a tough one to sit here and talk about,” said Fowkes, who got a dozen markers from Briston Bennett as he hit his first four 3s and grabbed a team-high eight caroms.

“First half we controlled the game. They got us on the boards. Give credit to Webster County. They stuck with it.”

The Highlanders not only held a 37-25 advantage on the glass, but had 15 offensive rebounds. That led to a 19-4 advantage in second-chance points. The Warriors also suffered seven turnovers following intermission after making just a pair in the first half.

“We had a good game plan for this team,” added coach Gray. “These kids have no quit in them. We didn’t shoot the ball well.

“These kids always find out a way to win. That’s kind of how the game went. I feel like we were beating ourself the whole game.”

Webster County hit just 15 of 45 field goals. Trinity shot 37.8 percent (17 of 45).