Cameron Girls Falls in WVSSAC Class A Title Game, 63-45
CHARLESTON — The old saying goes, “All good things must come to an end.” And for the Cameron girls basketball team, it saw its memorable season come up just short of cutting down the nets.
Down 12-11 going into the second quarter, Tug Valley outscored the Dragons, 20-6 in the second quarter and ran away with the West Virginia Class A state championship, 63-45 Saturday morning at the Charleston Coliseum.
“We faltered a little bit on defense,” Cameron (18-2) coach Holly Pettit said. “We gave up some easy baskets underneath their basket. Our shots just weren’t falling. We had a couple of fouls that happened and it set us back a little bit. When a team gets on a run like that, it’s tough to come back from.”
Cameron’s 2021 season included it winning the school’s first sectional title since 2008, the first regional championship in school history and making it to the state tournament for the first time. The loss also snapped Cameron’s 17-game winning streak.
“Tug Valley is a great basketball team. We knew what we were up against. They’re big and physical. They shoot the ball well and they were just the better basketball team (Saturday),” Pettit said.
The Panthers started the second quarter on a pair of 3-pointers by Kaylea Baisden and Audrey Evans. Tug Valley did not relinquish the lead.
Baisden then hit a layup with 5:37 remaining to put the score at 19-12.
Lili Neely then stopped the scoring drought for the Dragons with a 3-pointer of her own to put the score at 19-15 with 5:11 remaining.
However, the Panthers went on a 12-0 run to go up by 16. Baisden hit a layup with 23 seconds to go in the half to put her team up, 31-15.
Ashlynn VanTassell gave Cameron some life as she scooped up a loose ball in the final seconds and attempted a one-handed heave from half court at the buzzer and banked it in.
Cameron was held to two field goals in the second quarter and was outrebounded 23-12 in the first half.
“I told the girls at halftime, that we were definitely outrebounded in the first half,” Pettit said. “Before every game, I tell them if we play great defense and win the rebounding battle, we should win the game. At halftime, the deficit of rebounds was a lot. I think we made up in the second half, but I think it was too much, too late.”
Unfortunately, that was the case for the Dragons. Although Emma Whipkey hit a 3-pointer to start the third quarter to get Cameron within 10, 31-21, that was as close as it would get.
Again, down by 15 going into the fourth quarter, Cameron tried to make one final comeback attempt.
Reagan Gray tallied the first four points for the Dragons, to make it 45-34 in favor of the Dragons, but Tug Valley always had an answer.
After a Makalya May layup and Autumn Hall going 1 of 2 from the line to put the score at 48-34,
Neely hit another 3-pointer for the Dragons to get within 11.
Baisden, though, hit a 3-pointer of her own on the Panthers’ ensuing possession.
Baisden led the way for Tug Valley with 25 points while both Alyssa Newsome and Makayla May each had 15 points. May also had 11 rebounds to secure a double-double.
“We’re just thrilled and thankful for all of the support that our community has given us,” Tug Valley coach Clyde Farley said. “I love these girls on levels that go way beyond basketball. Our relationships are so deep. Some of these kids I’ve known since kindergarten and come all the way through with them.
“I was telling them for weeks; this was their destiny. They bought into that. It’s all about them.”
VanTassell paced the Dragons with 15 points and 14 rebounds while Neely had 11 points and eight rebounds.
“The group of girls, they’re just amazing from the seniors all the way down to the freshmen,” Pettit said. “From Day 1, we knew that we had a talented basketball team and we knew that we could play for a state championship. I think we weren’t expected to make it this far and to make it to the championship game proves that these girls want to work, want to get better and wanted to be here. I couldn’t be prouder.”
VanTassell, Neely and Kenzie Clutter were all voted on the All-Tournament team for Cameron. Tug Valley was represented by May and Baisden. Josie Montgomery (Calhoun County), Macy Helmick (Tucker County) and Sydney Baird (Webster County) rounded out the All-Tournament Team.