The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

February 21, 2013

Princeton eliminates Woodrow

Greenbrier East knocks off Shady to set up intriguing sectional final

FAYETTEVILLE — As expected, Class AAA No. 1 Greenbrier East and No. 7 Princeton prevailed Wednesday night in their Region 3, Section 2 semifinal games at the Fayette County Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Building.

But there were a few surprises.

Princeton (18-4) survived a poor-shooting first half to defeat Woodrow Wilson 46-28.

Greenbrier East (23-0) jumped on Shady Spring early, put in its subs, and let everyone have fun in what might seem to some, a surprisingly close 69-60 victory.

The Spartans, the state’s last unbeaten team, will meet the Tigerettes at 7:30 p.m. Friday night in the sectional final, also at Fayetteville.

“Princeton will be a very formidable opponent,” coach Jim Justice said. “They’ve got a very fast team, they play pretty good defense and they have great shooters.”

But Princeton, known over the years for its 3-point shooting, couldn’t buy a trey against Woodrow until reserve guard Jessica Inman finally sank one with 3:16 remaining in the first half.

While the Flying Eagles were going to their strength for scoring, a quartet of tall players inside, the Tigerettes had to rely on their defense and fast break for first half points.

State player of the year candidate Mackenzie Akers scored just five points in the opening half, and Princeton hit just 7 of 33 shots (21 percent). Still, they led 19-16 at the half.

“I think they left their shooting in the dressing room,” coach Debbie Ball said. “We had to sit two because of foul trouble, but I knew if we could keep an even score, I knew we’d do a lot better coming out the second half.”

But Woodrow’s hopes of pulling an upset came to a quick end as Princeton went on a 15-2 run to open the third quarter.

Marissa Mullins hit two threes, Hannah Preservati added another, and Akers hit two jumpers and a pair of foul shots to quickly put the game out of Woodrow’s reach.

Princeton hit 9 of 21 second-half shots, or 43 percent. The 10-13 Flying Eagles, turnover-prone from the outset, couldn’t respond.

“We lost focus in the third quarter,” coach Bernie Bostick said. “The second half we got down emotionally, and it was hard to come back.

“Our girls always play hard, and we’ve had a great defense, but we’ve had trouble scoring.”

Akers finished with a game-high 13 points while Inman scored nine.

Senior center Khadija Payne, at least six inches smaller than Woodrow’s front line, added eight points, nine rebounds and three steals.

“She’s been one of our leading rebounders,” Ball said. “She’s a big asset when it comes to playing bigger kids.”

Woodrow backup center Summer Butler scored nine points and grabbed six rebounds. Breanna Thompson chipped in eight points and seven boards, and point guard Sarah Akers had five points and five rebounds.

But if it took Princeton a half to find the range on the Memorial Building’s rims, Greenbrier East played as if the game was in Fairlea.

All-stater Bianca André hit a 3, a layup, a baseline drive and another 3 to put the Lady Spartans up 12-4 on Shady Spring.

Chaunté McDowell and Elizabeth Romeo also drilled 3s as East went up 26-11 at the quarter’s end.

“You never know, in a strange place and in a tournament game, but our kids are good shooters,” coach Jim Justice said. “They shot the ball well from the get-go.”

Justice benched his starters and played his second and third teams in the second quarter. The rest of the way he alternated his first five and reserves.

André finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. McDowell had 17 points (all but two on 3-point goals), six boards and six steals (five in the opening quarter), while Romeo scored 12 points and Chloe Honaker dished out eight assists.

Shady Spring stayed close, scorewise, through strong efforts from senior center Kaylee Dickenson and sophomore guard Morgan Hylton.

“She’s a wonderful player. She’s a great shot,” Justice said.

Dickenson had 23 points and 14 rebounds, while Hylton hit seven 3-points and scored 22 points.

“We played as hard as we could,” Dickenson said. “We pulled it together.”

Justice liked that both teams had fun.

“Those kids (Shady) are going to go to school tomorrow and be really proud of themselves, and they should be,” he said. “I think that’s great. That’s what high school is supposed to be all about. That’s what this world is supposed to be all about.”

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