PARKERSBURG — If Cabell Midland didn’t know Madi Mace before Tuesday night, the Knights certainly do now.
The Parkersburg sophomore put on a dominating performance as the Class AAA No. 2-ranked Big Reds rocked the sixth-ranked Knights 81-56 in a key Mountain State Athletic Conference girls basketball game Tuesday night.
Mace, who led all scorers with 27 points, said they were surprised at the final score.
“We’ve been practicing very hard and preparing for these type of games,”said Mace, who also pulled down 10 rebounds. “What we showed tonight is if you make good passes, and you don’t work to only get your shot that you can get into a flow.”
PHS (10-2, 6-0) had its flow going right from the start, especially on defense.
The Big Reds forced 17 first-half turnovers on 12 steals.
“We got our butts kicked tonight. It’s that simple. Parkersburg kicked our butts,” said Cabell Midland coach Matthew Adkins. “We won our last three games, but we hadn’t played that well. Sometimes a good butt kicking is what you need to get back on track.”
Scott Cozzens’ young PHS team was up to the task.
“We’re experienced, but young,” he said. “Getting a win like this against a senior-led team was important. We played like a team with experience tonight. This was a big game for us. We want to get back in the Night of Champions and there’s a good chance we’ll play either George Washington or Cabell Midland. This gives us a goal of winning a conference championship before the ultimate goal.”
Parkersburg jumped out to a quick 8-2 lead, and soon after that it was a 19-9 lead following a Mace 3-point basket. Maggie Richards closed out the first quarter with three baskets.
It was the Big Reds’ defensive pressure that translated into easy baskets.
“(Parkersburg) has a great team and it was a tough press, but teams press us all of the time and we handle it well,” Adkins said. “We just panicked tonight. It was easy to see why Parkersburg deserves to be ranked No. 2.”
The Knights (12-3, 6-1) did battle back with two quick buckets in the second quarter to cut the lead to 25-20. But PHS’ offense got back into a groove and reeled off a 10-1 run to lead 35-21, as the Big Reds led by double digits the rest of the game.
Aleea Crites and Shay Lee Kirby each had 13 points in the win, while both were also strong on the boards with eight and seven rebounds, respectively. Kirby also had five assists. Bre Wilson chipped in with 12 points to give PHS four players in double digits.
“We’ve come a long way since the start of the season,” Cozzens said. “There were a lot of expectations put on these kids because of the success they had last year. We are able to go eight or nine deep, and tonight’s game just sort of snowballed. That can happen at home.”
He also felt it was Mace’s most complete game of the season.
“We’ve been telling her to pull up and hit that jumper, and not try to bully her way to the basket every time,” Cozzens said. “She’s one of our best shooters, and we see it in practice. She did exactly what we knew she could tonight.”
The Knights were led by Faith Craddock’s 18 points, while Haley Waugh added 12 and Morgan Bennett 10. Waugh and Bennett also had six rebounds each. Sierra Womack had a game-high 10 assists.
Parkersburg is back in action Thursday when the Big Reds travel to Woodrow Wilson for a 7:30 p.m. tip off.