By Dan Stillwell
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Nicholas County coach Tom McGirl approached his Big Atlantic Classic game with Parkersburg South as a chance to play his guards against a very good backcourt combo.
The Patriots' Keya Bartlett and Taryn McCutcheon did not disappoint.
Bartlett put on a showcase, McCutcheon ran the offense and both caused the Grizzlies fits on defense as Class AAA No. 10 South rolled to a 52-32 victory Thursday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
“You're only going to get better by playing opponents like that,” McGirl said. “Barlett and McCutcheon are great players, and they got underneath us and forced us into 27 turnovers, which is a good bit above our average.”
Bartlett scored 30 points, grabbed seven rebounds and made three steals despite sitting out much of the second half in foul trouble.
She scored off a rebound and on the fast break, and then hit two 3-point goals as the Patriots took a 16-12 first-quarter lead.
Nicholas all-state center Shealyn Shafer, battling an ankle problem, kept the Grizzlies close early. She had 10 first-quarter points, including two 3s.
She scored just 10 more points the rest of the way, as South posts Miranda Workman and Carlie Wilson kept her boxed in, and Barlett, McCutcheon and small forward Keyleigh Rexroad played havoc with Nicholas' guards.
“Shafer's a nice player,” South coach Scott Stephens said. “Obviousl,y we were trying to limit her, but she still got 20 points on us. We tried back-side help and everything.
“If you put enough pressure on the guards to where they can't see the post players, that helps.”
McCutcheon, a freshman averaging 19 points a game, scored six of her 13 points in the second quarter as South upped its lead to 34-21.
Her most impressive play came when she missed the second shot of a 1-and-1 at the foul line. She raced in like a rocket, catching the Grizzlies flat-footed, to grab the rebound and put it back up for a score.
“There are some real good guards in our sectional, but Parkersburg South's are probably as good as any two in the state,” McGirl said. “Bartlett is the star, but McCutcheon can flat-out handle the ball. She made a long, one-handed, pass that was as good as most boys can do.”
Bartlett, who had 18 first-half points, picked up her third and fourth fouls within the first 17 seconds of the third quarter.
Nicholas (14-2 and ranked third in Class AA) not only failed to take advantage of her absence, but failed to score a basket until Shafer made a stickback with less than two minutes left in the period.
Bartlett, a sophomore who is also averaging 19 points a game, returned late in the period to hit another 3, and added nine more points in the fourth. In all, she hit 13 of 22 shots, including 3 of 8 from beyond the arc.
McCutcheon finished with a team-high 10 rebounds and also had five assists and two steals. Rexroad added nine points and four steals, and Wilson had eight rebounds.
Shafer concluded with six rebounds and four blocked shots.
“We didn't think Shealyn would play today. She had rolled her ankle real good against PikeView,” McGirl said. “It's just a testament to who she is.
“She wanted to play, and she knew her team needed her. She went out and battled at far less than 90 percent.”
MyKenzie Martin added eight points, and Nicole Hamilton chipped in eight rebounds and six points. Lauren Young had five assists.
“We'll bounce back and move on,” McGirl said. “We relish the chance to play teams like this. It's the last day of January, and it's time to get better.”
Nicholas will take on the GW-Preston loser at 2 p.m. today in the lower bracket consolation game. Parkersburg South (10-6) will play the George Washington-Preston winner at 4 p.m. Saturday for the bracket championship.
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Nicholas County (14-2)
Lauren Young 0-5 2-3 2, Mykenzie Martin 2-12 3-5 8, Nicole Hamilton 3-8 0-0 6, Lindsay Hogan 0-1 0-0 0, Shealyn Shafer6-14 6-10 20, Makayla Willis 0-5 0-0 0, Alexis Brown 0-1 0-0 0, Kaylee Hughes 0-0 0-0 0, Carrie Huffman 0-0 0-0 0, Sophie Kiser 0-0 0-0 0, Whitney Robinson 0-0 0-00, Amanda King 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 11-46 11-18 36.
Parkersburg South (10-6)
Kayleigh Rexroad 3-6 1-2 9, Lacey Cole 0-2 0-0 0, Keya Bartlett 13-22 1-2 30, Miranda Workman 1-3 0-0 02, Carlie Wilson 1-5 0-0 2, Taryn McCutcheon 5-17 2-2 13, Hannah Cothern 0-0 1-2 1, Amber Cottrell 0-0 0-0 0, Sutherlin Greenburg 2-2 0-0 4, Katelyn Byrd 0-4 0-0 0, Mykalyn Fallon 0-1 0-0 0, Anna Hayton 1-5 1-2 3. Totals: 27-71 6-12 66.
Score by quarters
NC 12 9 5 10 — 36
PS 16 18 16 16 — 66
Three-point goals: NC 3-13 (Young 0-2, Martin 1-7, Shafer 2-4), PS 6-16 (Rexroad 2-2, Bartlett 3-8, McCutcheon 1-5, Fallon 0-1). Fouled out: None.