Lady Warriors upset Charleston Catholic in thriller

In the last regular season game, the senior Lady Warriors, from left, Kayleigh Arbogast, Michelle Murphy, Megan Galford and Melissa Murphy, led the team in defeating Charleston Catholic 44 to 42 at home Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samantha Collins
In the last regular season game, the senior Lady Warriors, from left, Kayleigh Arbogast, Michelle Murphy, Megan Galford and Melissa Murphy, led the team in defeating Charleston Catholic 44 to 42 at home Saturday. Photo courtesy of Samantha Collins

Bruce McKean
Contributing Writer

PCHS 44
Charleston Catholic 42

There is nothing better than to get your biggest win of the season in the last game right before sectional play begins.  The Lady Warriors did just that when they hosted #10 (Coaches Poll) Charleston Catholic at a triple-header at #13  Pocahontas County High School Saturday, February 20.  PCHS lost to the Irish in Charleston 18 days earlier by 17 points, 42-25, and Coach Mike Kane stated that the Warriors should have won by 15 points if they had played up to their full capability.  We have been playing CCHS in regular season for the fourth season which is also Mike Kane’s fourth season.  PCHS bested Catholic twice in the 2012-13 season by 43-37 and 49-45, our only two wins over CCHS ever.  We have previously played the Charleston team in Region 3 post-season play and at states.  We only lost 39-40 at states in 2010 and in regionals in 2008 31-35 in two of the closest contests with the Irish.
The Lady Warriors came out strong Saturday against the Charleston Catholic full-court full-game press, and three girls, junior all-stater Sarah Ryder, senior first team All-PVC Melissa Murphy and junior Mary Kelley, made four straight baskets to start the game and take an 8-0 lead.  Catholic then put together a 6-0 run, and the two squads traded baskets right before senior Michelle Murphy had to leave the game after being accidentally hit in the face with a very strong pass at close range by a fellow teammate. CCHS then knotted the score at 10-10; Ryder hit one of two free throws, and Irish senior Caroline Dundevill threw a long desperate heave from mid-court at the buzzer for the only Irish three in the game and the 13-11 lead.  In the first frame both squads had their biggest number of rebounds, 11 for PCHS vs nine for CCHS, and turnovers, seven for PCHS vs five for CCHS.  Ryder and senior Raegan Palmer of CCHS both had their most points, seven each, and rebounds, three and four respectively, in the opening quarter.
Michelle Murphy returned to the game in the second period. Starting point-guard Melissa Murphy was battling a bug and not feeling 100 percent, and she would leave the game at the half and not return.  Backup point guard Tiffany Hoover was called into service to direct the plays.  The second quarter was low scoring, 4-8 CCHS, with six players total from both teams getting two points each.  A CCHS 8-0 run ended with their biggest lead of eight points, matching the PCHS opening run and lead.  CCHS senior Peyton Mullen and Ryder each led in the third with six points each, and Pocahontas took the quarter 12-9 to pull within three points, 27-30. 
The PCHS students and fans were really into the game by that point, and the fourth quarter was a thriller.  Shots had not been dropping for Kelley since an 18 point effort in the Moorefield game, but she opened the fourth quarter with two treys and went on to score 10 points in the quarter to lead the Warrior comeback.  Tiffany Hoover hit her only three right after Kelley’s two treys to up the PCHS lead to 38-31, and that was Hoover’s only score in the game.  Catholic was not done, and they would tie the game at 42-42. 
PCHS Sophomore Briana Mills was fouled under the basket, and she had missed two previous foul shots in the third quarter and two in the fourth.  Mills swished both critical shots for the 44-42 game final score.  With about 15 seconds left in the game, CCHS senior Caroline Dundervill was fouled, and she missed both foul shots.  Catholic had to foul to stop the clock, and Ryder missed her first of a one and one opportunity, but PCHS held on for the upset victory.  Both teams made only four of their 15 foul shots.  Pocahontas was called for 18 fouls and Catholic for 14 fouls, even though only CCHS pressed the entire game.
The two game-high scorers, both with double-doubles, were Sarah Ryder of PCHS, 15 points and 11 rebounds and Raegan Palmer of CCHS with 15 points and 10 rebounds.  Lady Warrior Mary Kelly contributed 14 points, and Catholic senior Peyton Mullen tallied 11 points and played the best defense in the game.  Sophomore Briana Mills came off the bench and scored six points, blocked two shots and grabbed six rebounds.  Leading the charge defensively were Melissa Murphy with four points and four steals in two quarter of play, Michelle Murphy with six rebounds and three deflections, Tiffany Hoover off-the-bench with three deflections and one block and Mary Kelley with two steals and three deflections.
PCHS out-rebounded the shorter CCHS team 35-30, and PCHS committed 20 turnovers to only 13 for Charleston Catholic.  PCHS improves to 11-8 and 7-2 in the PVC play.  CCHS drops to 11-9.  Coach Kane was very proud of how his bench and younger players stepped up with one senior missing the game, one senior getting four fouls and two seniors having to leave for half the game.
Number 1 seed PCHS will open sectional play in Class A Region II Section 2 semi-final action by hosting the winner of Monday’s #5 seed Paw Paw at #4 Pendleton County on Wednesday, February 24, at PCHS.  The game will begin at 7 p.m.  A win on Wednesday would send PCHS to the Region 2 championship at Petersburg High School on Saturday, February 27, at 7 p.m. 

Pocahontas County has won 14 straight sectional championships while playing in both Region II and Region III.  PCHS will move to Region III Section 1 with the new SSAC alignment next season after being in Region II for four seasons.  We have played and defeated #2 seed Pendleton County in the Section 2 Championship at Petersburg the last three years, and that cannot happen this season, since we meet Pendleton in the semi-finals and East Hardy is the #2 seed in Section 2 this year and the most likely team to advance.  All teams who make it to their section championship advance to regional championship games win or lose.  Winners get to host their regional game and face the runner-up from the other section in their region.

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