Ward reaches milestone

PARKERSBURG – Parkersburg senior Imani Ward did everything on senior night from singing the National Anthem to scoring 18 points and recording her 1,000th career point midway through the third quarter.

“Imani had absolutely no idea that she was 11 points away,” explained Big Red coach Kenny DeMoss as the Big Reds (12-8) cruised to another easy victory in February, defeating the visiting Knights from Point Pleasant, 61-41.

Coming off their biggest win of the year, a 68-54 thumping of No. 5 Princeton, the Big Reds came out flat in the first quarter playing the Knights to a 15-15 tie. Point Pleasant won the toss and then promptly lost the lead as the Big Reds went on a 10-5 run to open the game before the Knights pulled even at the end of the first quarter, which ended on a high note for the Big Reds featuring a Kennedy Walker stuff of Point Pleasant’s Mackenzie Thomas.

The momentum would swap back-and-forth with the Big Reds riding a little extra going into the locker room with a 28-24 lead. PHS went ahead by as much as five in the second quarter before Katie Bruner, the leading scorer for the Knights with 14, scored six straight points to pull Point Pleasant ahead, 24-22. Following a 30-second timeout by coach DeMoss, the Big Reds scored the next four points on a jumper by Ward and after a steal and assist by Megan Morrison to Kailey Cox, the Big Reds headed for the locker room up by four.

PHS finally seized the momentum for good on a jumper and lay-up by Ward to put the Big Reds up by eight. The second bucket by Ward put her over the 1,000 point mark for her career. Ward received a standing ovation as the Point Pleasant coach called a time-out and allowed Ward to celebrate. The Big Reds upped the lead to 12 a few minutes later on a Walker bucket with 47 seconds left in the third quarter. Ward and Walker paced the Big Reds in the third quarter scoring 11 of the team’s 16 points. The defense also played a big role in the third quarter, holding the visitors to just eight points and grabbing 10 boards. The third period would see the Big Reds expand their halftime lead to 10, 44-34, heading into the final period.

In the final stanza, the defense performed an encore and posted nine boards and four steals. The Big Reds also limited the Knights to nine points in the final eight minutes. Parkersburg’s offense, meanwhile, scored 17 points in the final period to up the margin of victory to 20 points.

Haley Ackerman scored five of her 10 points, including a make at the charity stripe, in the fourth quarter to put her in double-digits along with Ward (18) and Walker (10).

“We have heated up here in the final month of the season and are looking to make a strong statement heading into the MSAC tournament and the state tournament,” DeMoss said.

The Big Reds are 2-0 in February, and are 8-2 in their last 10 games.

PHS hopes to maintain the momentum when it travels to Ripley on Friday.