CHARLESTON -The wait for a third Class AAA state girls basketball championship was supposed to be at least a year away for the young Patriots of head coach Scott Stephens and Parkersburg South.
But, sophomore Keya Bartlett and a host of freshmen talent would have nothing to do with that as Bartlett tied one record and smashed another as the Patriot sharpshooter connected on seven treys – six in the second half -to lead the red, white and blue to its first state title since 2008 with a 58-34 win over Logan Saturday night at the Civic Center.
“We came out and played pretty well and made some big shots in the first half, but it was still a pretty close game,” said Stephens, who led Parkersburg South to titles in 2006 and 2008. “Then this young lady sitting beside me (Bartlett) got hot and our defensive pressure began to wear them down.”
Bartlett, who tallied 30 points in a first round win over Hedgesville, finished with a game-high 26 points while freshman Katelyn Byrd chipped in with 11 as the Patriots finished the season a 20-7 mark, but, more importantly, with a Class AAA state title.
Sent to the bench late in the first half via three charging fouls, Bartlett wasted little time in making the Wildcats (17-10) pay as the second-year player took a Taryn McCutcheon pass and drilled what would be the first of her four triples during the eight minute span. Logan, who received 12 points from Shayna Gore and 11 from Monica Mitchell, fought back and trailed by only 10, 33-23, after a one-for-two effort by Mitchell at the free throw line with 4:05 showing on the clock.
The Wildcats would continue to chip away at the Patriots’ lead and pulled to within nine, 35-26, on a triple by Hannah Tothe with 2:51 left in the quarter.
That would be as close as the Wildcats would get as Bartlett connected on her next three opportunities – all behind the arc – to send South back to the bench with a 17-point, 44-27, advantage with one quarter left to be played.
The final one gave her 13 for the tournament, as she eclipsed the old mark of 11 set by Morgantown’s Julie Wheeler in 1992 and tied by North Marion’s Erica Glance in 2002.
Bartlett wasn’t’ finished, however, as her first attempt in the fourth quarter hit nothing but net, giving her seven in the game and tying the state mark established by Glance in 2002 and matched by Huntington’s Taylor Wheeler in 2005 and Bridgeport’s Kristy Akers in 2011 and tied by Huntington’s St. Joseph’s Dempsey Griffith earlier in the day in a win over St. Marys in the Class A championship.
“It feels amazing,” said Bartlett, who hit eight treys in one game during the regular season and owns the single season mark for the Patriots. “It really feels great when the crowd gets into it like they did tonight.”
Like it did during its first two contests, Parkersburg South jumped out to a quick 11-6 lead thanks to treys by Carlie Wilson, Bartlett and Kayleigh Rexroad and a deuce by Bartlett.
The Patriots continued to build on their lead thanks to a free throw by Bartlett and a driving bucket by McCutcheon and led by eight, 14-6, with 2:53 left in the quarter.
Logan, thanks to a pair of buckets by sophomore Shayna Gore, sliced the deficit to four, 14-10, after the first quarter of action. But, the Patriots were far from finished.
Another deuce by McCutcheon and a one-for-two effort by Byrd increased the South lead to seven, 17-10, with 4:46 remaining until the intermission.
“Everybody at the beginning of the year doubted us,” said Byrd. “That just pushed us harder to come down here and prove them wrong.”
The Wildcats, however, clawed back into the contest and trailed by only six, 22-16, on a pair of free throws by Mitchell with 49.1 ticks left in the half.
Parkersburg South elected to go for the last shot and Wilson made the decision a good one when she followed a Katelyn Enoch miss with a driving layup just before the buzzer sounded for the intermission, giving the Patriots a 24-16 lead with two quarters remaining to be played.
McCutcheon, the school’s single season assist leader, finished with 13 assists on the night and added nine points and six steals.
“It makes it really easy (to have assists) when you have a player like Keya out there,” said McCutcheon. “We’ve played together since we were in the third grade so we know where each other are going to be.”