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Wyoming East tops Catholic in the Class AA state championship game

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg Catholic’s Jenna Boice (25) handles the ball as Wyoming East’s Skylar Davidson defends during Saturday’s state final in Charleston.

CHARLESTON — Wyoming East walked into Saturday’s Class AA state championship game inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center with a self-proclaimed chip on its collective shoulders.

The Warriors danced out state champions.

Skylar Davidson scored 23 points, pulled down eight rebounds, recorded four assists and grabbed six steals, and her teammates and her defense held Parkersburg Catholic to 50 points as they ended the Crusaderettes’ 44-game winning streak with a 61-50 victory. Hannah Blankenship threw up a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Daisha Summers tallied 11 additional markers.

“I had to play every game like it was my last, and today it was my last as a Warrior,” Davidson said as she played 94 of a possible 96 minutes over three combined state tournament games.

“It is unbelievable we played hard today, and the kids didn’t give up. We were a little tired and a little fatigued, but our depth helped us. Our defense was solid all game and it created some opportunities on the offensive end,” Wyoming East head coach Angie Boninsegna said of winning the program’s second title in five years.

Photo by Joe Albright Parkersburg Catholic’s Leslie Huffman handles the ball as Wyoming East’s Abby Russell defends during Saturday’s state final in Charleston.

Leslie Huffman scored 14 points, Lainie Ross added 14 more, yet every time Catholic pulled within five or six, the Warriors always had an answer.

“I didn’t feel like the physicality of the game was something we were unprepared for, but Wyoming East brought a level of physicality that a lot of teams aren’t necessarily able to bring,” Vierheller said. “It is not easy to replicate it in practice.”

East began their waltz with a well-oiled plan after dissecting Catholic’s offense with a scout team. “We knew we had to play good defense and rebound,” Boninsegna said.

By racing out to an 11-2 lead, the Warriors exhaled just a bit.

“It helped settle our nerves when we got in there,” Boninsegna said.

Catholic eventually regrouping meant Wyoming East wouldn’t waltz away with the championship. Aaliyah Brunny’s 3-point basket bringing them within 17-14 at the 6:26 mark of the second quarter was encouraging, but it also started a frustrating sequence of events for the Crusaderettes.

“From that point on for the rest of the game it seemed like we could just not get over the proverbial hump,” Vierheller said. “It just seemed like it was seven points forever.”

Twice, his group cut the lead down to six points, but it was only to suffer a dagger for their troubles. Davidson’s 3 with 7:14 left in the third to play kicked the lead back up to nine after Huffman brought her crew with 29-23. Moments later, Abby Russell’s triple erased 3 of Mary Tokodi-Ruth’s nine points.

Catholic than got within five, 45-40, on a Huffman trey but Davidson’s layup on the other end promptly made the advantage seven points.

After that, the Warriors watched the lead dip to six points just one final time on Brunny’s layup with 1:16 remaining in the game.

“We didn’t put all that work in the summer for nothing. And it came down to who wanted it the most and we wanted it. We wanted this win and we just kept telling ourselves to keep pushing and keep doing the little things right and it will add up to a big win,” Blankenship said.

Catholic missed eight foul shots that could have made the outcome different.

They were also outrebounded, 38-30.

“You have to give a lot of credit to Wyoming East, the scoreboard shows they scored 11 more points than us, but I have state champion young ladies,” head coach Marty Vierheller said after the game. “I am not sure how I am going to have the words to go in and face them for a team that has absolutely given me everything for so long.

“I apologize to them for not being able to get us across the finish line. When you see the kind of physical game that was played out there today and for the girls to keep answering the bell every time, when they got knocked back down, they got right back up. Yeah, we did want it badly, but had we won and had the championship trophy sitting right in front of us, I wouldn’t be any prouder of them.”

Catholic now hits the drawing board with some work to do if they hope to return to the title game in 2022. Three big holes form in the lineup upon the graduations of Aaliyah Brunny, Madison Ross, and Jenna Boice.

The Crusaderettes are still looking for their first state title since 2006

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