CHARLESTON — Sixth-seeded Martinsburg never stood a chance against a focused third-seeded Parkersburg High squad in a Class AAA state quarterfinal Thursday inside the Charleston Civic Center.
Fueled by the memories of last year’s loss to South Charleston in the same game, PHS jumped out to a 9-0 lead, turned on its “Pressburg” press, and never looked back in a 68-49 win.
“I am proud of these youngsters we had,” said PHS head coach Scott Cozzens. “You never know how you are going to play between the time off of the regional final and the state tournament. I thought we came out with great intensity today. They did a great job.”
PHS forced 27 turnovers and got 46 combined points from Madi Mace (25) and Shay-Lee Kirby (21) to move on to the semifinals at 9 p.m. today.
Mace, who was in tears on the interview podium after the loss to the Black Eagles used the setback as motivation.
“Yeah I remember that, I cried the whole night because last year was so short and that was our main goal this year to get back here,” said Mace.
Both girls helped the Big Reds jump out to a 21-10 lead after one period of play. PHS used five of the Bulldogs’ 27 turnovers to grab the advantage. Giveaways would kill Martinsburg all evening.
The Bulldogs’ doom was sealed at the beginning of the third quarter. Kyle Triggs’ team didn’t score for the first five minutes of the period, while PHS built its 37-23 halftime advantage to 22 points. Two of Prosperity Stitt’s team-high 18 points finally stopped the bleeding, but it was too late.
“Honestly I think we were impatient,” said Triggs about the scoring drought coming out of halftime. “I think we were trying to get back 14 points in the first couple possessions instead of just understanding it is a possession-by-possession game. We have the ability to play both styles full and half court but analytically we are better when we play at a slower pace because we but the ball inside so much. And in the first five possessions we didn’t do that and dug ourselves an even deeper hole.”
Parkersburg’s reward for beating Martinsburg is a matchup with No. 2 seed Parkersburg South. Cozzens’ and South head coach Ed Davis’ groups get together for the fourth time this season and for the first time in the history of the series at the state tournament. Each team won at home with the Patriots’ leading the season series 2-1. A trip to the state championship game will be on the line.
When asked if he was worried about the 24-hour turnaround and if his girls would be prepared for the game Cozzens responded with a simple answer, “It’s South. I am sure they will be ready.”