Top-ranked Parkersburg wins MSAC girls crown
SOUTH CHARLESTON — With the way Parkersburg coach Scott Cozzens was after his players Saturday night in the second quarter, people would have thought the Class AAA No. 1 Big Reds were in trouble.
But reaching a higher standard requires being held to a higher standard and the torrid run through the Mountain State Athletic Conference that Parkersburg completed was certainly of another level.
The Big Reds forced 30 Woodrow Wilson turnovers and turned up the heat after halftime, using a 19-11 third quarter to pull away from the Flying Eagles for a 74-56 win in the MSAC girls basketball championship game at the South Charleston Community Center.
It marked Parkersburg’s second consecutive conference crown, but this one was in far more dominating fashion. The closest an MSAC came team to beating the Big Reds was 17 in a 64-47 contest at Cabell Midland.
While Woodrow came close to matching that Saturday, like every team in the league throughout the year, it wasn’t nearly close enough.
“You look back at the Huntington teams and South Charleston teams, there’s a lot of state-level stuff out of this league,” Cozzens said. “To be able to play as well as we have and take care of business — these kids probably don’t understand it now but in a few years they’ll look back and see and it’ll really mean something to them.”
Senior Shay-Lee Kirby came a point from matching her season high, going for 32. She hit four 3-point shots in the first quarter to ignite herself and the Parkersburg offense. Woodrow jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, but one of her four threes started what would become a 13-0 run and the Big Reds never trailed again.
“She plays with such confidence and she can score inside and shoot the ball real well,” Cozzens said. “If there’s a better player in the state all-around I want to see her. I just don’t think there is.”
Woodrow was on the losing end of one of Parkersburg’s lopsided league wins earlier in the year, falling 79-49 to the Big Reds (21-1) on Jan. 24.
To their credit, the Flying Eagles were much more competitive this time despite the turnovers and getting outrebounded 36-27.
The Big Reds looked poised to make it a laugher early, stretching their second-quarter lead to 29-15 midway through. However, Woodrow (13-8) closed on a 14-6 spurt to make the score 35-29 at halftime.
Kirby and Aleea Crites started the third quarter with back-to-back buckets for Parkersburg, but Woodrow answered with hoops for Jamara Walton and Elizabeth Cadle to keep the advantage at six.
But at that point, the miscues piled up too high for Woodrow to overcome as Parkersburg ripped off the next eight points and the advantage never fell to single digits again.
“We didn’t give up, it could’ve gotten ugly,” Woodrow coach Brian Nabors said. “It’s just been our problem — all the losses we have has been because we haven’t taken care of the basketball and we’ve done a poor job blocking out. That’s what happened tonight.“Madi Mace backed Kirby with 19 points and five rebounds with Crites adding 10 points and eight rebounds. The Big Reds piled up 23 steals with Maddi Leggett leading the way with six, Crites racking up five and Mace finishing with four.
Coley Frantz led Woodrow with 15 points and Victory Staunton scored 12 to go with six rebounds.
WOODROWWILSON 12 17 11 16 — 56: Frantz 15, Staunton 12, Cadle 5, Ball 9, Walton 9, Zolkowski 3, Law 3.
PARKERSBURG 23 12 19 20 — 74: Leggett 2, Crites 10, Kirby 32, Wilson 8, Mace 19, Lowers 3.