Midland Trail finally climbed to the top of the mountain when it mattered most.
Senior Marissa Workman took a feed from Emily Carte and buried a long-range 3-point goal with 2.2 seconds remaining to lift the Patriots, the No. 3 seed, to a thrilling 48-47 win over rival Fayetteville in the Class A Region 3, Section 2 girls basketball championship Thursday at the Baisi Athletic Center on the WVU Tech campus.
No. 1 seed Fayetteville couldn’t connect on a desperation 3-pointer as time expired, allowing the Patriots to escape with their first win in three tries this season against the Pirates.
Workman’s pivotal goal marked the first time her team had led all night long. Fayetteville raced to a 13-0 lead in the first 6:30 and held its biggest cushion at 18 points, 27-9, on a driving goal by Avina Sedlock with 3:25 left in the first half.
“It felt good,” said Workman, who also made a critical 3-pointer to help beat Fayetteville in the postseason two years ago as a sophomore, the last time Midland Trail advanced to the state tournament. “But I thought it was going to go underneath the rim.
“I didn’t know what to think (when the shot went in).”
Workman, who finished with a game-high 17 points, collected 15 rebounds and had four assists, said the exciting victory should silence some of the doubters.
“We’re not a team with a lot of basketball skills, but we fight,” she said. Many people didn’t expect the Patriots to survive in the semifinals against No. 2 Meadow Bridge, she said, and the Patriots were underdogs to Fayetteville, as well. “But we didn’t come in with our heads down.”
Workman said the initial plan going into the final possession was to look for interior presence Madison Syner (13 points, nine rebounds). She said her 3-point attempt was more of a “last resort.”
“Marissa played an all-around good game,” said Midland Trail’s first year-coach, Matt Harper. Harper, too, said the aim was to look first for Syner on the inbound play but to have shooters such as Workman, Carte or Haley Nickell available on the wings or in the corners. “Marissa didn’t feel any nerves. She stepped up and made it.”
Fayetteville coach John Mark Kincaid said the coaches considered a man-to-man defense but opted instead for a zone and that Workman made a good shot. “She shot it from the hash mark,” he said. “They hit some shots tonight. We just kept losing people (on defense).”
Kincaid said his recent teams have encountered similar problems at times. “We’re always used to playing in front,” he said. “Every time we get the lead late in the game, we panic.
“We have to learn how to play with the lead and play with composure.”
After the Pirates took their big second-quarter cushion, Trail used a 10-2 spurt at the end of the half to trim the deficit to 10 points, 29-19.
Fayetteville got seven points from Maddie Pritt in the first three minutes of the third period to assume another large lead, 38-22, but Midland Trail finally settled into a rhythm and began chipping away.
Syner, who missed a large chunk of the first half with foul trouble, came to life with six points to ignite a 10-0 run that made the deficit a more-manageable six points, 38-32, with 1:18 to go in the third. Then, after Fayetteville moved back into a 10-point bulge, 44-34, Midland Trail eventually pulled to within 1, 46-45, on a deuce from Carte off a Workman assist, a Workman trey and a turnaround in the lane from Syner.
In the early going, it was all Fayetteville. Kaylee Wood’s putback made it 13-0 with 1:15 left in the first quarter, and the Pirates scored 12 of the first 16 points of the second period to go up by 18, 27-9.
“In the first quarter, I thought we played scared,” Harper said. “To play as bad as we played in the first quarter and to only be down 10, we told them to keep chipping away.”
He said his players started getting more confidence on offense, adding that employing a 2-2-1 defense in the second half “confused them (Fayetteville).”
Carte contributed nine points and seven rebounds to the cause for Midland Trail.
Pritt finished with 14 points to pace Fayetteville (15-7). Kendall Malay added nine and Sedlock had eight.
Midland Trail (11-11) hosts the Tug Valley-Sherman loser on Wednesday in a Region 3 co-final. Fayetteville travels to play the Tug Valley-Sherman winner, also on Wednesday, in the other co-final.
Those two survivors advance to the eight-team state tournament.
Midland Trail (11-11)
Abby Sevy 1 0-0 2, Haley Nickell 0 0-0 0, Jesika Cooper 0 5-8 5, Emily Carte 4 0-0 9, Marissa Workman 5 3-5 17, Madison Syner 6 1-3 13, Emily Keeney 0 0-0 0, Mallory Stonestreet 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 9-16 48.
Maddie Pritt 5 3-4 14, Avina Sedlock 4 0-0 8, Kathryn Peelish 2 0-0 4, Kendall Malay 3 3-7 9, Kaitlyn Sisler 2 0-0 4, Kaylee Wood 3 0-0 6, Faith Norris 1 0-0 2, Hannah Franklin 0 0-0 0, Emily Reeves 0 0-0 0, Hannah Samples 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 6-11 47.
MT 5 14 13 16 — 48
F 15 14 12 6 — 47
3-point goals — MT: 5 (Workman 4, Carte); F: 1 (Pritt). Fouled out — none.