By Shawn Stinson
FRANKLIN – Members of the Pendleton County High School girls basketball team were able to mark off several of their goals.
They captured a sectional title and played host to a regional co-championship, with a berth in Charleston in the balance. Unfortunately, their goal of returning to the Elite Eight in Charleston was dashed by Union in the Class A Region II co-championship clash March 2 in Franklin. The Lady Tigers claimed a 54-41 victory over the Lady Wildcats to advance to the school’s first-ever trip to the state tournament.
“They made shots and we didn’t,” Pendleton coach Micah Bailey said. “I know it’s a cliché-thing to say, but that’s literally the difference. We shot in the low 20s and they shot in the high 40s. Defensively both teams made mistakes, we both went on runs, it’s just the ball wouldn’t go in the bucket.”
Pendleton grabbed a 15-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. Union (16-5) rallied in the second quarter and seized a 27-21 advantage at halftime. The Lady Tigers continued to extend the margin in the third quarter, outscoring the Lady Wildcats by eight in the period to take a 41-27 lead into the fourth.
Three Union players scored in double figures led by Hailee Whitacre’s 16 points. Olivia Bomboy and Victoria Seabolt both netted 11 in the victory.
It was the third victory for Union in four contests against Pendleton this season. Bailey said there were no surprises in what either team attempted to establish in the contest.
“We knew what exactly what was coming,” he said. “We knew exactly how it was going to go … we got the looks we wanted to get and we just missed.”
Ana Young netted a team-high 14 points for Pendleton in the defeat. She was held without a field goal in the final three quarters. Young connected on two 3-point field goal attempts. Avery Townsend scored nine and Brandy Bowers chipped in with eight for the Lady Wildcats.
“Basketball is a game of momentum,” Bailey said. “They had momentum at times and we had momentum at times. It’s hard to gain momentum when you can’t make a basket. The majority of what they shot went in. There’s nothing much you can do about that. It wasn’t like they were shooting wide-open looks; they had contested looks; they were just knocking them down.”
Gilmer County (22-2) earned the top seed in the Class A tournament. Gilmer was scheduled to square off with Union, the No. 8 seed, at 5:30 p.m. March 8 at the Charleston Coliseum. Cameron (21-4) grabbed the No. 2 seed and was set for a 1 p.m. March 8 clash with No. 7 River View (16-8). Defending Class A champion No. 3 Tug Valley (17-5) was scheduled to open play at 9:30 a.m. March 8 against No. 6 Tucker County (18-6). No. 4 Doddridge County (19-6) and No. 5 Webster County (19-5) were set for a 9 p.m. March 8 clash in the final quarterfinal matchup.
Bailey added it was tough to not be able to make the return trip to Charleston, especially for the seniors.
“They wanted to make it back, I wanted to make it back,” Bailey said. “It was tough. Losing one you feel like you could have played better in and done more in.”
Pendleton coach Micah Bailey discusses strategy with his players during a timeout in the Class A Region II co-championship contest against Union.