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PHS girls start strong, beat Woodrow

Parkersburg’s Mya Barrett defends against Woodrow Wilson’s Cloey Frantz during the Big Reds’ 68-63 victory Friday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — In a battle of ranked Class AAAA teams here Friday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse, host Parkersburg got a career-high 29 points from Brilynn Florence as the No. 7 Big Reds used a strong defensive effort after the break to secure a 68-63 victory versus No. 4 Woodrow Wilson.

“In a season like this unless you just got a bunch of seniors coming back that have been around together it’s a learning experience for everyone,” admitted PHS boss Scott Cozzens, whose squad returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday with a home varsity only affair against No. 2 Wheeling Park.

“We felt like we probably weren’t ready, but he (head coach Brian Nabors) probably felt the same way. They lost a lot, too. They had a lot of good seniors last year that were making that run when we got shut down. He’s kind of like us. He had some experience coming back, but not a lot of game experience.”

The Flying Eagles, who play at No. 9 South Charleston at 4 p.m. Saturday, used a balanced scoring attack with Cloey Frantz (12), Olivia Zolkowski (11), Keanti Thompson (10) and Camille Fenton (10) leading the way. Jamara Walton finished with nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

There were four ties in the first half and six lead changes, but the visitors went ahead 22-19 when Zolkowski converted a three-point play with 5:03 left in the half.

PHS, which opened the second 1 of 9 with a turnover, trailed 28-19 following one of Thompson’s game-high six steals and a layup. However, the red and white used a pair of 3s apiece from Florence, who made seven, and Sierra Mason (11 points) to close within 36-33. WWHS managed a 40-33 lead at the break thanks to hoops by Frantz and Zolkowski.

Trailing 45-42, Florence scored 10 straight points to help PHS move ahead 52-47 late in the third. Walton’s assist on a Zolkowski make had the Flying Eagles within four, 54-50, after three.

Lataja Creasey started the fourth with a deuce and following a bucket by Thompson and Walton’s three-point play, WWHS pushed back ahead 57-54. Coach Nabors was given a technical soon thereafter.

Kisten Roberts, who had 15 points and a team-high seven caroms, made 1 of 2 on the technical and PHS went ahead for good at 59-57 when Hayley McCale assisted on a Florence bomb with 5:44 to play. Roberts then scored on a lay-in and was whistled for a technical, but the Flying Eagles missed both foul shots.

Woodrow Wilson closed it to 61-59 with 3:42 left following a pair of Frantz charity stripe tosses, but McCale answered with a 3. Mya Barrett and Florence each knocked down two free throws late to help secure the win.

“A lot of these kids this is their first varsity experience ever,” said Cozzens, who added of his four missing players “one will have a soccer match (Payton Harvey) but the other three (Beyonce Pierce, Riley Hilling, Lauren McDonnell) will be available tomorrow. We knew it was going to be ugly.

“We cut the turnovers down and I was really happy with our rebounding (WWHS held a 38-35 edge) considering they had us outsized in about four positions. I think the biggest difference in the second half was we got out and got some easy layups on them and got some easy points in a game that was pretty rugged defensively back and forth.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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