Three in a Row For Cameron
Tradition is something that Chad Clutter is trying to bring to the Cameron High girls’ basketball program.
And after directing the Dragons to their third straight West Virginia Class A Region One, Section Two championship Saturday night in New Martinsville, Clutter is well on his way to achieving that goal.
Junior point guard Sunni Hartley fired in a game-high 20 points and Clutter’s squad used its distinct height advantage to hold a huge margin off the glass as Cameron outlasted Valley by a 51-44 count before an enthusiastic crowd at Magnolia High School.
The victory moves the Dragons to 15-9 on the campaign and sets up what Clutter and his crew knows is the next step in the direction they want to go — a Region One championship game with Wheeling Central on Wednesday night at Brooke High School.
Coach Penn Kurtz’s Maroon Knights already own a 67-35 victory against the Marshall County squad earlier this season in East Wheeling and have become a real thorn in the Dragons’ side.
”We are starting a nice tradition here with three straight sectional titles,” a happy Clutter said. ”But we know that to take the next step we have to win the regional and go down state.
“I have already told the girls that if they give me the chance to play in the regional every year, somewhere along the line we are going to give Wheeling Central a great game.”
For the Lumberjills and long-time coach Larry Weekley, it is a disappointing end to a fine campaign that saw Valley finish with a 13-9 record. The Lumberjills had defeated Cameron in Pine Grove earlier this season by three points in overtime before losing to the Dragons by three at Cameron.
Early on it looked as through it would be the ‘Jills that came ready to win the rubber match and take home the sectional hardware. While the Dragons were turning the ball over on their first three possessions, Valley was busy building a quick 7-0 lead thanks to a long-range bomb from Sammy Frye at the 6:15 mark.
However, the designated visitors bounced back quickly and cut the deficit to 15-12 after one.
Rebounding played a key factor in a 14-7, second-quarter Cameron spurt that led to a 26-22 advantage at the break. Senior Alyssa Hager pulled down six of her game-high 12 boards in the second quarter while sophomore Courtney Porter added six of her 11 during the stretch.
The Dragons’ first lead of the night came on a Porter deuce at the 4:20 mark of the half and pushed Cameron ahead by a 19-18 count.
Leading by two, 33-31, late in the third quarter, a pair of Hager free throws and a Katelyn Sampson field goal sent the Blue and Gold into the final 8 minutes with a 37-31 upperhand.
But with a chance to put Valley away, it was the Lumberjills that answered the fourth-quarter horn quickly and jumped back ahead. Lesta Kocher and Alexandra Higginbotham each converted shots before Frye hit a 3 for a 38-37 reversal.
Cameron again regained its composure and bounced back. Down 40-38 at the 5-minute mark, Hartley followed a Porter basket with a triple and Shelby Wood nailed a field goal before a Hager free throw made it a 46-40 Dragons lead.
Valley twice got to within four down the stretch, but could not get over the hump.
Clutter was very happy with the way his team twice handled adversity, trailing 7-0 early and watching a fourth quarter lead slip away.
”I really believe that the girls respond in a lot of way to my calmness on the sidelines,” he mentioned. ”And when I get them in a timeout I am very direct and to the point with them.
Getting shots off was a problem all game for the Lumberjills, who finished the game shooting less than 50 percent, but was only able to get off 33 shots in the contest.
That number was just 21 heading into the fourth quarter.
”Rebounding has been a factor for us all season long,” Weekley commented. ”Our problem is that we are all the same size. But the girls do play with an awful lot of heart and desire.”