CHARLESTON — Championship Saturday hadn't been kind to Wyoming East as of late.
Before Saturday's Class AA state title game, championship losses in 2018 and 2019 had left a bad taste in the mouths of the Wyoming East faithful.
It's been swapped with the sweet taste of victory.
Senior Skylar Davidson capped her standout state tournament performance, and career, with 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field, guiding East to a 61-50 victory over Parkersburg Catholic for the Class AA state championship in the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Warriors won their second state title, adding to the 2016 championship. They also snapped Parkersburg Catholic's 44-game winning streak, dating back to the start of last season.
Much like their last trip to the title game in 2019 — when they took a 17-3 lead — the Lady Warriors (11-2) blazed to a quick advantage, leading 11-2. Learning from her sophomore season, Davidson didn't allow her team to take the foot off the gas.
"I tried to keep (my teammates) in the game," Davidson said. "We couldn't get too excited because we've been that team in that spot and we got really excited and then we started going down. Really I just tried to tell them that the game's not over. Even with 16 seconds on the clock I was like, 'we've got to keep going, we can't stop right now.'"
Davidson wasn't alone though, as her teammates crashed the offensive glass to cash in.
Daisha Summers opened the scoring by grabbing an offensive board and scoring on the putback. Hannah Blankenship followed suit by grabbing two offensive rebounds on the following possession and scoring to push it to 4-0. Both buckets were part of eight second-chance points East scored in the first.
Catholic's Jenna Boice put Catholic on the board with a jumper of her own, but the barrage from East continued.
A pair of free throws from Davidson, a 3-pointer from Abby Russell — who rebounded from air-balling her first attempt and turning the ball over on her first possession — and another Blankenship offensive rebound that led to a Summers layup, resulted in a timeout at the 3:57 mark with East up 11-2.
That helped Catholic steady the storm as it trailed 17-11 at the end of the first and gained momentum going into the second.
The Crusaderettes parlayed that with a 3-pointer to open the second-quarter scoring, slashing the deficit to three. Davidson answered right back, pulling up and swishing her first of three 3-pointers on the day.
But over the next four minutes the East offense was stale as Catholic's trap defense slowed the Lady Warriors' ability to isolate and drive to the rim. The rut allowed Catholic to trim the deficit back to three, but Davidson found the solution, hitting Blankenship in the right corner for back-to-back 3s to reestablish control.
"I knew that they were really focused on me and Daisha," Davidson said. "I kind of drew in the trap but not too much to where I would get myself trapped. And then I'd just throw it ahead. Abby did a really good job of being in the right spot at the right time and Hannah was setting up ready for it."
"It's tough to go out there and tell the girls to go guard them," Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller said. "We do, but at the same time when you've got somebody that's such a playmaker like Leslie (Huffman) is, they can find the open shooter and when those open shooters knock 'em down, they knock them down. And at the same time if you guard everybody equally you're going to let Skylar take somebody to the basket all day. We're not going to do that."
Blankenship's treys reignited East as it led 29-19 going into the break.
Catholic came out of the tunnel swinging in the second half, slashing the lead to six, but East matched the Crusaderettes blow for blow. Consecutive 3-pointers from Russell and Davidson pushed the lead back to nine as the Lady Warriors led 45-37 at the end of the third but Catholic had one last gasp.
A 3-pointer from Leslie Huffman made it a 45-40 game at the 7:22 mark, but a layup from Davidson, an assist from the senior to freshman Madison Clark and a steal and made free throw by Clark made it a 50-40 game. The Crusaderettes were never able to get the deficit below eight points the rest of the way.
"I think it helped us this year to have a little bit of depth," East head coach Angie Boninsegna said. "We're nine deep and we got our momentum going. We stayed positive and they made some runs at us. We hit some key shots. Sky hit a key shot, Maddie Clark hit a key shot, Abby Russell hit a key shot. They were going back at us.
"Hannah hit three or four key shots. Every time they made a run for us we were able to hit a key shot to keep it about eight to 10, so I think that was very beneficial."
Davidson led all scorers with 23 points, adding six steals. She finished the tournament with 59 total points, 25 assists and 23 steals, playing 94 of 96 possible minutes over three games. Blankenship recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points to go with 10 rebounds, while Summers added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Lainie Ross and Huffman each scored 14 points for Catholic.
Russell, Summers and Davidson were named to the all-tournament team. They were joined by Petersburg's Kayla Lantz, Charleston Catholic's Sydney Bolles, Williamstown's Nicole Reynolds and Parkersburg Catholic's Aaliyah Brunny and Huffman.
Email: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @TJackRH
Wyoming East (11-2)
Daisha Summers 10, Skylar Davidson 23, Abby Russell 8, Sarah Saunders 1, Hannah Blankenship 11, Madison Clark 6, Kayley Bane 2
Parkersburg Catholic (18-1)
Mary Tokodi-Ruth 9, Leslie Huffman 11, Aaliyah Brunny 11, Lainie Ross 14, Jenna Boice 2
WE: 17 12 16 16 — 61
PC: 11 8 18 13 — 50
3-point goals — WE: 8 (Davdison 3, Russell 2, Blankenship 3, Clark 2); PC: 5 (Tokodi-Ruth 3, Huffman 1, Brunny 1). Fouled Out — WE: Summers; PC: Boice.