The Pocahontas County High School Lady Warriors are heading back to the girls state basketball tournament in Charleston for the eighth time. The Lady Warriors defeated the Irish of Clarksburg Notre Dame, 70-43, on March 5 at PCHS in the Class A Region 2 championship game. The Lady Warriors never trailed in the victory, played in front of a big crowd of fans from both schools.
The Irish contested every play and came within 14 points mid-way through the third quarter. Notre Dame’s toughness and determination to win surprised those of us who watched them surrender for three quarters to Tucker County last Friday in the Region II, Section 1 championship game in Elkins, when the Mountain Lions mauled the Irish, 52-19.
Four PCHS starters were in double digit scoring: sophomore point guard Melissa Murphy – 19 points, junior all-stater Tristin Day – 18, freshman Sarah Ryder – 18 (all in the second half), and junior all-stater Bobbie McNabb – 11. Senior starter Lorena Rose added two points, seven rebounds, one steal and one assist to her resume. and junior Natalie Hartzell made two points and four rebounds off the bench. Murphy had five assists, four rebounds, three deflections and one steal. McNabb combined for seven assists, four rebounds, three deflections, two steals and the only block. Day was busy with six steals, four assists, two rebounds and two deflections. Ryder tallied eight rebounds and one deflection.
Clarksburg Notre Dame junior Christina Snodgrass accounted for 12 points, all in the first half, and hit three of her four threes in the pivotal third period. Sophomore Rachel Rogers hit all eight of her team’s first quarter points and had eleven in the game. Sophomore Francesca Steele, the team’s leading scorer with a 15.5 points average, was held to nine points.
PCHS out-rebounded the bigger and taller team 29-20, while Notre Dame won the fouling contest 22-13. The scores by quarter were all PCHS: 19-8, 14-9, 23-17 and 14-9. Ryder got hot in the high-scoring third quarter and made 10 points under the basket in that frame. Notre Dame committed more turnovers 22-12.
PCHS improves to 16-7, and the Irish end their season with a 12-12 record.
PCHS first made it to states in a three-year stretch from 2002-04, then in a four-year span from 2009-12 and now in 2014. This was the thirteenth straight time the Lady Warriors’ made it to a regional championship, and their record in regionals improves to 8-5. Only Tygarts Valley in 2013 and Charleston Catholic, from 2005-08, while in Region 3 and with 2012 player of the year Mackensie Maier, have bested the Warriors at regionals. Notre Dame’s only trip to states was in 2006.
Pocahontas has been defeated seven times in the state quarter-finals. The good news is that PCHS lost the last six times at states by an average of only 3.7 points per game.
Number 6 seed PCHS will play number 3 seed Tucker County for the third time this season on Thursday, March 13 at 9:30 a.m. at the Charleston Civic Center. PCHS led at Tucker County on January 30 at the half by seven points, and the game was tied at the end of three 33-33. Tucker took the last quarter and won 47-38. Tucker’s bench points and bigger/taller team plus PCHS poor shooting were three factors in the two wins over PCHS this season by nine and 12 points.
Tucker is making it’s tenth straight trip to states. TCHS took Williamstown last year, 61-53, and then lost to five-time defending state champion Huntington St. Joseph Central, 31-63, in one of the two semi-final games. St. Joe beat St. Marys in the state championship game, 73-32.
The winner of the PCHS/Tucker game will play the winner of the St. Marys/Fayetteville game in a semi-final game on Friday at 11:15 a.m. The two semi-final game winners will play for the state championship on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The other four teams in the opposite bracket start with St. Joe versus Tug Valley and Wheeling Central versus Charleston Catholic on Thursday.
Two PCHS spirit buses will travel to the game. PCHS has won the Spirit Award twice in recent years. A Sportsmanship Award and an eight player all-tournament team will be selected by the spirit judges and the media. Win or lose, players and fans will remember this accomplishment of getting to states for the rest of their lives.
Anyone wanting to help the Lady Warriors program with their many expenses can send a check, payable to PCHS Girls Basketball, to PCHS, 271 Warrior Way, Dunmore, WV, 24934.