Bruce McKean: Lady Warriors advance to 11th straight regional
Dunmore, WV – — The Lady Warriors advance to their eleventh straight regional appearance and face Meadow Bridge
— 19-4 third quarter lifts PCHS to a 62-34 home win over Midland Trail
Class A #7 (both Coaches and AP Polls) Pocahontas County will host one of the Region 3 finals on Wednesday, February 29, at 7 PM, after beating Midland Trail 62-34 for the Region 3 Section 1 Championship, their 11th straight sectional championship. Pocahontas will host and play in their 11th straight regional tournament versus the runners-up of Section 2, Meadow Bridge. Fayetteville beat Meadow Bridge 61-46 on Thursday at Meadow Bridge, and will entertain Midland Trail for the other Region 3 slot at the state quarter-finals next Thursday in Charleston. A PCHS win Wednesday is the ticket to PCHS’s fourth straight trip to Charleston and seventh in school history (2001-02, 2002-03, 2003-04, 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11).
It will be hard to match the biggest upset in school history of the 2001-02 team of seniors Tausha Cassell and Megan Shearer, juniors Malea Gum and Kayley Kolonay, sophomores Brittany Burner, Erin Coleman, Angie Foe, Caroline McKean, Ashley McNabb and Rachel Wayne, and freshmen Emily Bland (sister to current sophomore Chloe Bland) and Whitney Curry. Those pioneers started it all in 2002 at Elkins High School with a huge 47-46 regional upset win over Gilmer County. Gilmer had been ranked #1 or #2 all season, alternating with seven-time state champion Mercer Christian Academy and were runners up to MCA the previous year at states. Gilmer had two 6’5″ players, and Denae Dobbins was a Division I recruit of James Monroe University.
The Lady Warriors stunned the favored Lady Titans and their busloads of fans on a very snowy winter night with a 7-2 first quarter lead, but Gilmer led 18-15 by the half. Gilmer took it’s biggest lead of the night at 41-34 with 4:00 remaining. PCHS ended the game with a miracle 13-5 run which included three treys. Gilmer led 45-41 with :16 seconds left when senior Malea Gum connected on the first of her two three pointers in the final minute. The Lady Warriors had to foul on the inbounds play, and Dobbins missed her second foul shot. Gum hauled in the rebound from the two giants and raced the length of the floor and shot from behind the arc and knocked down the biggest shot of her career and of Lady Warrior history to take the one point victory. The high PCHS scorers in that game were two sophomore post players, Caroline McKean with 15 points, six rebounds, four steals and four assists and Ashley McNabb with 14 points, including three treys, and five steals. Team leader Cassell hit three of three foul shots, frustrated Dobbins all evening with her tough “jumping” defense and finished with five points; Gum had eleven points including the two timely threes, and Shearer added 2 points and her stellar defense.
Dobbins had 20 points, 10 blocks and seven rebounds for Gilmer. The PCHS fans got to celebrate twice due to seconds being added back on the expired clock after Gum’s game-winning three and the first celebration. Gilmer threw a floor-length pass, and McKean intercepted it and held on tight as time ran out prior to a second PCHS celebration.
A team that is currently second in all WV (all classes) on MaxPreps.com to powers Huntington St. Joe, 6.0 to 8.7 threes per game, and Summers County, 63% to 67% free throw %, did not show and did not need those skills versus Midland Trail in their sectional championship. Chloe Bland hit the only three for PCHS in the first quarter, and the Lady Warriors hit only nine of 23 foul shots. Coach Tim McClung attributed the rust from the long layoff at the end of the season that resulted from no games being rescheduled late in the season as often happens in snow country.
PCHS managed a 12-7 first quarter and a 15-10 second quarter for the 27-17 half-time lead, and that was not a typical game score for a team that is averaging 67.4 points per game, second only to Summers County at 72.8 on MaxPreps.com. Bland, Heather Snead and Olivia Workman combined for all 19 points in the third quarter, and the PCHS defense allowed only one Trail player, Kennedy Cochran, to score four points in that quarter. Six PCHS players and five Trail players would score in the fourth for a close 16-13 quarter taken by Pocahontas. PCHS improved to 20-4 with the win, and Trail dropped to 10-13.
With 2:30 to go in the third quarter, Chloe Bland turned her ankle under the Trail basket, and had to be carried off the floor by Coaches McClung and Kenny Lehman. The gym fell silent when fans realized that the PCHS highest scorer in boys and girls history, was laying on the court in much pain. Bland had physical therapy this week and has been walking on the ankle. A previous turned ankle took Bland about a week’s recovery time, so all Lady Warrior fans are crossing their fingers.
Bland had 22 points, 13 rebounds and 2 steals when she left the game. Snead contributed 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Fellow senior all-stater Miranda McNabb combined for 8 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals. Junior Olivia Workman put in 6 points and 7 rebounds. Senior point guard Erin White kept up her great floor management and added 5 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 4 assists. Freshman Tristin Day came in off the bench and put up 4 points, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. Freshman Bobbie McNabb helped with 3 points and 3 rebounds. Sophomores Makeia Jonese and Lorena Rose each had two points in the final quarter.
Meadow Bridge (16-6) comes to PCHS for the second straight regional game at PCHS on Wednesday at 7 PM, and is led by junior guard Chandra Harrah who broke the 1000-point career scoring mark in the loss to #11 Fayetteville (18-6). Harrah had 19 points and junior Sarah Fleshman contributed 13 points in the Fayetteville loss. PCHS bested Meadow Bridge last year 81-38 and seven Lady Warriors put up eight three-pointers and all twelve players scored. Bland had 20 points and 12 rebounds last year, and Miranda McNabb put up 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 blocks. Graduate Shelby Snead had 12 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Harrah led Meadow Bridge with 19 points, and five MBHS girls scored.