PARKERSBURG - Playing its '' best game'' of the season, No. 11 Parkersburg South bested No. 8 Wheeling Park 74-61 in Class AAA girls basketball Thursday night to further enhance its chances of hosting a first-round sectional tournament contest.
South, now 9-5, took control of the game with a 25-13 point advantage in the second quarter to up a 16-14 first-period edge to 41-27 by halftime.
Then Scott Stephens' Patriot cagers sank 17 of 22 free throws in the second half, including 9 of 12 by sophomore Keya Bartlett, to keep visiting Park (10-6) at bay, squaring the home-and-home series at one win apiece.
Parkersburg South's Miranda Workman looks for a teammate to pass to while being defended by Wheeling Park's Kendra Johnson Thursday after grabbing a rebound. South defeated Wheeling Park, 74-61. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Parkersburg South's Katelyn Byrd is fouled by Wheeling Park's Emily Puskarich as she grabs a rebound. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
The teams combined to bomb in 18 treys on the night, 10 by Park, led by Emily Puskarich with six 3-balls and a game-high 26 points. Bartlett, with four of her patented corner treys - all in the first half - paced South with 23 points.
In the decisive second stanza, a 14-2 South run, fueled by three treys - two by Bartlett and one by Katelyn Byrd - and started by a three-point play by Anna Hayton to snap a 16-all tie, pushed the hosts out to a 30-18 lead by the 5:11 mark.
Then three more treys by Byrd, Bartlett and Carlie Wilson after Park had closed the gap to 30-25 propelled South out to a 14-point bulge at intermission.
In the third quarter, six straight points by Taryn McCutcheon for South hiked the spread to 47-30 at 5:17, but a late 8-0 Park burst with Puskarich popping in two treys helped narrow the visiting Pats' deficit to just 10, 56-46, going to the final period.
However, South took full advantage of being in the double bonus at the foul line for basically the entire fourth quarter, converting 8 of 8 free throws, and Park was never closer in the last eight minutes than 10.
Freshman point guard McCutcheon had nine assists at the half and 13 for the game, tying the South single-game girls record with 13, set by Sarah Harvey in 2007.
McCutcheon added 16 points for South, which plays at Brooke Saturday, while Hayton netted 11, Byrd 10 and Wilson nine. For Park, Haley Robb collected 16 points.
''I think that's the best basketball game we've played yet this year,'' said Stephens. ''There's no better time to bring your best than when you're playing the best. I really wanted to play today since they had played last night, and I thought that would be to our advantage.''