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Wheeling Park Girls Eliminated As Rally Falls Short

Photo by Kyle Lutz Wheeling Park’s Bella Abernathy takes aim during Thursday’s state tournament game in Charleston.

CHARLESTON — Morgantown girls basketball coach Jason White knows that his squad and Wheeling Park are quite familiar with each other and what type of style of play they like to run.

White also knew that even though his team had a double digit lead, that the Patriots were going to make a run.

That certainly was the case. After taking a 21-5 lead after the first quarter, Wheeling Park made a tremendous push for a comeback. However, the lead proved to be too big and the comeback fell just short as the Mohigans defeated the Patriots, 57-54 Thursday night in a West Virginia Class AAAA quarterfinal matchup at the Charleston Civic Center.

It was the fourth matchup between the two OVAC rivals with Morgantown winning three in a row.

The Mohigans will play Huntington today in the semifinals.

“Absolutely,’ White said about knowing that his large leads weren’t going to last. “As a matter of fact we knew it so much that at the end of the third quarter when we sat down, I looked right in their eyes and said, ‘We have a lead. Fourth quarter. What’s coming.’ “They all said, ‘They’re going to come trap. They’re going to come pressure. They’re going to come jump as soon as we cross half court. ‘ And sure enough there it came. I thought early, even though we knew it was coming, we looked a little shell-shocked. Certainly it’s something that we have to get corrected in such a short amount of time because Huntington is going to do the same thing to us (today).”

For the Patriots, Bella Abernathy picked up her second foul just 61 seconds into the game. With her sitting on the bench, Kaitlyn Ammons was able to take advantage down low.

She scored 10 points while Cat Wassick hit three 3-pointers as the Mohigans took a 21-5 lead after the first eight minutes.

“Hats to Morgantown,” Wheeling Park coach Ryan Young said. “They set the tone at the beginning of the game, which is what we kind of done with the playoff opponents we’ve had success with. And some things are kind of out of our control a little bit. You have the foul trouble and the way they were shooting the basketball.

“But I just told these kids, the way we battled back the whole game, we could have mailed it in a couple of times and they didn’t. They stretched the lead out pretty good twice. It’s just a testament to the character of these kids. During timeouts, no one was hanging their heads. They were talking, ‘We are not done. Keep fighting.’ And they did. At the coach, at the end of the day, that’s all you can ask for.”

With Abernathy back in the game, the Patriots got a little spark in the second quarter. Outscoring the Mohigans 20-9, they were able to trim their deficit to five as the score read 30-25 in favor of Morgantown.

An Asia Roby 3-pointer with 6:09 to go in the third quarter put the score at 34-30. The Mohigans, though, extended their lead back to double digits as they went on an 11-2 run to end the quarter.

“It’s a chess match every time we play them,” Young said. “They have a great staff and players. As frustrating as it is, it’s fun at the same time. That’s what a rivalry is. It’s back and forth. The game looked like a rivalry. You’re not happy with a loss, but at the end of the day, it’s fun competition.”

With 2:18 left in the game, Wheeling Park trimmed the deficit to a single possession. Abernathy made her first free throw to put the score at 49-46.

But, the Patriots just couldn’t get over the hump.

Roby drilled a 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go as the score read. 55-52.

After Cat Wassick hit 1 of 2 free throws for the Mohigans, Sophie Abraham went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to make it 56-54 with four seconds remaining.

“It felt good to come down one more time and try to get a ring,” Abernathy said. “I’m just proud of us for coming back. We showed a lot of character and showed a lot of heart at the end of the game. I just wished it would have ended differently for us.”

Despite her foul troubles, Abernathy led the Patriots with 14 points while Roby tallied 11. Lindsey Garrison and Abraham each netted 10.

For the Mohigans Ammons had a game-high 20 points while Cat Wassick had 19. Sofia Wassick netted 10.

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