The number-five-ranked Class A PCHS Lady Warriors participated in the Nicholas County Armory Classic in Summersville for the first time on Friday and Saturday, December 27-28. PCHS opened the tournament on Friday at noon and faced the number-11 Class AA Runnin’ Rebels of Tolsia High School. Always a strong team, Tolsia is a past champion of the Pocahontas County Holiday Tournament.
The second game at 2 p.m. on Friday pitted the host Class AA number-nine Nicholas County Lady Grizzlies versus the Class AA James Monroe Lady Mavericks. James Monroe, although not ranked, only lost 74-94 a week ago to Class AA number-four powerhouse Summers County (5-0). It is not too long ago that JMHS was winning state championships (2001 and 2002) and runners-up (2003).
On Friday, it took PCHS half of the first quarter to get comfortable with the huge arena and to tie their match at 7-7. By the end of the first quarter, PCHS led 13-10, and Melissa Murphy had four of her team-high five steals. McNabb got three quick fouls and would sit on the bench for the second quarter.
The Lady Warriors started the second period strong and built up to their biggest lead of the game, 22-12. Tolsia then climbed back into the game and took a four-point lead into the half, 25-29. The Runnin’ Rebels’ press was the strongest PCHS had faced this season. Tolsia’s tall, fast senior Savannah Winnett hit for eight points in the second, and PCHS freshman Sarah Ryder hit for eleven to keep Pocahontas in the game. One-third of PCHS’s 18 turnovers were committed in that period.
Tolsia’s physical defense was helping to keep PCHS high scorers Bobbie McNabb and Tristin Day way under their normal scoring, but junior Olivia Knisely came off the bench and hit two nice threes in the third. By the end of the third, Murphy had hit eight of eight foul shots. Winnett made the PCHS defense have to cover more of the floor when she started hitting threes from NBA range. Tolsia upped their lead to 13 points three times, but PCHS clawed back to cut the taller team’s lead to five points to enter the last canto.
PCHS would shoot no free throws in the fourth, and Tolsia would get ten shots and hit five as PCHS had to try to stop the clock and the Rebels were holding the ball. The Warriors cut the lead to five twice early, but Tolsia’s foul shots was the difference in the game.
Game high scorer was Winnett of Tolsia with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds. Right behind her was PCHS’s Ryder with 17 points. THS’s Jordan Presley hit for twelve points, and Latasha Nichols added 10. Murphy matched the 10 for PCHS and had team high assists and steals of five of each plus seven rebounds. Senior co-captain Lorena Rose just missed a double-double with nine points and nine rebounds, and Knisely added eight points.
Tolsia improved to 2-3 while PCHS dropped to 4-2 on the season.
What a difference a day makes as Pocahontas never trailed in the consolation game on Saturday. Both teams were called for six fouls in the first half. PCHS took the first two quarters 13-11 and 19-14 for the 32-25 half-time lead.
The number of fouls called in the second half, nine for PCHS and 16 for JMHS, reflected the number of Lady Warriors driving to the basket and drawing fouls and the physical play of the bigger and taller Lady Mavericks. PCHS dealt the knock-out punch in the third with an 18-7 effort. PCHS would hit 11 of 17 foul shots in the third and 10 of 14 in the fourth. The final score was 66-45 PCHS, one point more than Summers County’s win over JMHS and the biggest margin of victory in the tournament. PCHS made 27 of 40 foul shots.
High scorer Tristin Day had her career night with 29 points including four threes and nine of 13 foul shots. McNabb hit for 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and three deflections, while getting a season high six blocks while making six of nine foul shots. Murphy scored 10 points, dished out six assists and made six of six free throws. Ryder put up 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit six of eight foul shots. Rose grabbed five rebounds, and the team out rebounded JMHS 33-23.
Tolsia and Nicholas County battled for the championship on Saturday and
Nicholas held on at the end to win it, 42-35. Three of the four games were close games.
The Lady Warriors travel next to Bath County High School for a rematch on Thursday, January 2 (JV game starts at 6 p.m.). Class A number-seven, undefeated Charleston Catholic travels to PCHS the next day for a varsity game only at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, January 3. The Lady Warriors got their first two wins ever versus Catholic last season by scores of 43-37 at PCHS and 49-45 at CCHS.