Bruce McKean
Contributing Writer

PCHS Varsity, 50
Midland Trail Varsity, 63

The #8 state-ranked (Coaches Poll) and Class A Region 3 Section 1 #1 seed Pocahontas County Lady Warriors (18-3) hosted the unranked and Section 1 #2 seed Midland Trail Patriots (17-6) February 22, in the Section 1 Championship. Trail advanced to the game by beating both #7 seed Fayetteville (0-21) by the score of 66-31 on Monday in the opening round of sectional play and #3 seed Valley (Fayette) (9-13) by the score of 89-24 on Wednesday in the semi-finals. 

Both teams’ losses this season were to Class A ranked teams, but Trail also lost to ranked Class AA Nicholas County twice and to unranked Class AA Oak Hill by only five points.

PCHS started strong in Friday’s Section 1 Championship game, taking the first canto 12-7 and the second 18-13 for a half-time lead of 10 points, 30-20. PCHS head coach Mike Kane had to be happy that his team led the entire first half with only one 5-5 tie early in the game. PCHS was only called for three fouls in the first half, and Trail was called for seven fouls in the first half. Laila Calhoun was game-high scorer in the first half with 11 points.

PCHS had scored the first two baskets to start this game, but Trail scored the first two baskets of the second half and quickly cut the PCHS lead to six points. Kira Bircher drilled a second three to put PCHS up by nine. A 7-0 Trail run followed during which Charity Warner was called for two quick fouls that resulted in four made foul shots by Trail, and the PCHS lead was now down to only two points, 33-31. I might mention that Warder was constantly pressured under the basket by two or three players.

With the score upped to 38-32 PCHS, the Warriors would not score another point in the third quarter, and Trail mounted a 12-0 run for the 44-38 lead at the end of three.  Trail’s first lead in the game was a 39-38 advantage late in the third quarter.

Up to the beginning of the fourth frame, PCHS had made four of four foul shots in the first half and shot none in the third, while Trail made one of two foul shots in the first half, and then received eight foul shots and made six in the third quarter.  PCHS would only shoot three foul shots in the entire second half with none in the third stanza.  Trail would camp-out at the foul line in the fourth quarter and made 11 of 18 foul shots.  The refs called only six fouls on Trail in the final half and 14 on PCHS.  Warder got her fifth foul with 5:19 to go in the game.  Kierstin Taylor made a three to close the gap to five points, 49-54.  With PCHS down 50-58, Trail shot foul shots for the rest of the game as PCHS had to foul to stop the clock.  The final score was a win for Trail 63-50.

PCHS would sink six of “only” seven foul shots (86%) awarded by the Parkersburg area refs in the entire game, and Trail would nail 18 of a staggering 28 foul shots (64%).  PCHS shot an amazing 80% of field goals in the second period, eight of 10 shots.  Although we were shorter, we came close to another taller team, 29 to 30 (25 for Trail by our count).  Hefner grabbed nine of those rebounds, Calhoun eight and Warder six.  Trail committed fewer turnovers with 18 (14 by Trail’s count) to 23 as Pocahontas panicked at the thought of losing.  PCHS grabbed a season-low seven steals while Trail tallied 13.  Three Lady Warriors were in double-digits:  Calhoun – 17 points, two-threes and five assists; Hefner – 11 points, four deflections, three assists and three steals; and Kira Burcher – 10 points, two threes, and five assists. Jerrica Reed and Kierstin Taylor each also hit a three for a team-high of six-threes versus five for Trail.  Four Patriots were in double-digits for Trail:  Dickerson – 21 game-high points and 4 threes; Jenny Wilson – 17 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds; Taylor Harrell – 12 points and 11 rebounds; and Laurel Johnson – 10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists.

For the second straight year, Pocahontas will travel to Hinton to face the Section 2 champion Summers County team at 7 p.m. Thursday, February 28, in one of the two region 3 co-final games.  Midland Trail will host the runner-up from Section 2, Montcalm, in the other Region 3 co-final game.  The winners of these two games will advance to Charleston to play on March 6.  All four opening round Class A state tournament games are played on Wednesday along with two of the four Class AAA games.  The two Class A semi-final games will be played on Friday with the other four AAA and AA semi-final games.

This group of Lady Warriors has to focus on the fact that they were the first PCHS girls team to ever beat Summers County, and their three regular season losses is the second fewest in school history, so they can win it in Hinton!  We need a big following of fans to head to Hinton on Thursday for this game.  West Virginia coaches voted PCHS #8 in the last Coaches Poll of the season and Summers #10, so they also think we can do it. 

PCHS drops to 18-4 with this loss, and MTHS improves to 18-6.

PCHS Varsity, 56
Charleston Catholic Varsity, 37

#1 seed PCHS opened 2019 Section 1 play in a rescheduled semi-final game February 21, with a 19-point, 56-37, win over #4 seed Charleston Catholic.

Hefner was game-high scorer in this game with a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds.  Calhoun put up 13 points and nine rebounds, while Warder added a double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds.  Reed, Kira Bircher and Calhoun all hit one three each, and Alexa Taylor nailed two.  Rebounding was the difference in the game with PCHS grabbing 42 boards versus 18 for the Irish.  Fewer turnovers also helped with PCHS winning that battle 14 to 23.  High scorers for Catholic were sophomore Hannah Rahin with 15 points and freshman Isabella Cinco with 10 points.  CCHS dropped to 8-16 and ended their post-season play with the loss.