Parkersburg High beat Hampshire by 63 points in state quarterfinals

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg’s Maggie Richards, left, looks to pass as Hampshire’s Danielle Davis (10) defends during Wednesday’s Class AAA state quarterfinal game at the Charleston Civic Center.

CHARLESTON — Class AAA’s top-seeded Parkersburg Big Reds played like a team who had been to the state tournament.

Eighth-seeded Hampshire Trojans struggled in its first trip to Charleston in 18 years. The opposition had a lot to do with their struggles.

Julieanne Buckley’s Trojans hoped to pull off the upset against a Big Reds’ squad favored to repeat as state champions. Her team knew the Big Reds brought to the table a stifling defense, a suffocating press and a lot of scoring.

Knowing is one thing … Hampshire executing against and scoring along with PHS in reality was the challenge Wednesday evening. The Trojans never received a chance to see if they measured up to the reigning champions.

Scott Cozzens’ Big Reds introduced the Trojans to all three phases the hard way in the first half of their 81-18 win. PHS went on a 20-0 run between the first and second quarter, used its pressure to force 26 first-half turnovers, scored 28 points off those takeaways and held Hampshire to 12 points in 16 minutes.

Overall, the Big Reds set or tied five state records. Their 63-point margin of victory bested Martinsburg’s 29-year old AAA record. The steals record across all three classes fell as well as PHS stole the ball 36 times. Emily Kupfner’s steal with 1:05 left sealed the deal. The mark belonged to Huntington St. Joe.

Their amount of forced turnovers tied another record.

Shay-Lee Kirby also tied Sarah Kelly’s steal record with 10 swipes to go along with a team-high 18 points. Bre Wilson (14), Aleea Crites (11) and Madi Mace (13) joined her teammate in double figures. Mace and Crites both recorded a double-double with 11 rebounds, Crites finished two blocks short of a triple-double.

The tour de force lasted the entire game.

“We just do what we do and the kids love playing together,” said Cozzens. “We are finally healthy and playing our best basketball at this time. We approach each game and respect the game and respect our opponents by playing as hard as we can every time out. If we do that the formula so far has been successful.”

His team practicing what he preached could prove difficult when up by a large margin but Crites and Cozzens combined to answer how there are never instances to step off the peddle. PHS never settled after it took control of the game between the first and second quarters.

“We just continue to do what we do and move the ball,” said Crites. “We play good defense too.”

“We play a certain style and they (the girls) don’t know any other way to play,” said Cozzens. “We tried slowing it down earlier in the year and we stink. We threw that out the window real quick. We break old habits and create new habits. This is the way we play. You can’t rein them back.”

Hampshire’s only lead of the game lasted all of one minute. Gracie Fields’ jumper three seconds in was answered by a jumper from Crites and a layup from Kirby with 7:00 left on the clock. PHS then outscored Hampshire 77-16 the rest of the way.

Tears flowed freely from Buckley and her players in the postgame interview.

“We knew we were up against a really tough opponent,” said Buckley. “We fought adversity all season. No one expected us to get here. And I am proud of them.”

Kirby climbed within 25 points of the PHS girls’ basketball scoring record with her effort.

The Big Reds now face the winner of South Charleston/Wheeling Park at 5:30 p.m. Friday. Either matchup pits the participants against each other for the second time this season.

“Yes, it does worry me,” said Cozzens when asked if he is worried about the rematch. “You can watch us on film and watch us in person but until your kids get on the floor against this length and athleticism you really don’t understand what is about to happen to you. We have played South Charleston a lot the past couple of years. The Wheeling Park/South Charleston game might be the game of the bracket down here. I am very interested to see who comes out of that game. They are very different teams. We are going to watch the game then go home and practice for our opponent.”