Prep girls basketball: St. Marys tops Magnolia, returns to state

ST. MARYS, W.Va. – With Magnolia living on borrowed time, St. Marys pushed the pedal to the metal and secured its second straight trip to the Class A girls basketball state tournament in Charleston.

In the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter, second-ranked St. Marys turned a six-point lead into a 13-point affair and never looked back while defeating Magnolia 64-50. “Hopefully we will be a two seed – at 22-1 what more can you do for a resume,” St. Marys coach Howard Meeks said.

St. Marys senior Kendra Walker produced an impressive stat line with 25 points and 20 rebounds. Just for good measure she also finished with a team-high four steals. “It feels wonderful to get back to Charleston,” Walker said. “I’m so excited for us to get this opportunity. I know we will play our hardest at the state tournament and give it all we have.”

Also scoring in double figures for the Blue Devils was Ashley Hall with 16 points even though she sat on the bench for a large portion of the first half after picking up her third foul with just two free throws to her credit.

“Maintaining the lead while Ashley was out with foul trouble was important,” St. Marys point guard Mikaela Britton said. “We have a lot of girls who can come off the bench. We have a lot of depth, so when one of us gets in foul trouble we can pick it up with someone else.”

Magnolia gave St. Marys its best shot and took a 14-12 lead into the second quarter. A total of five lead changes ensued before the game reached intermission. With 10 seconds left before halftime, Jordan Fox converted one of five assists by Britton and hit a 3-pointer to put the Blue Devils in front 26-24.

“It was a dogfight out there, and back and forth between us all night,” Britton said. “And in the end, we came out on top.”

Mallory Chapman’s first bucket of the game – a 3-pointer off an assist from Kelsi Chapman – opened the scoring in the second half and gave Magnolia its last lead of the game at 27-26.

St. Marys answered with a 7-0 run, but Kelsi Chapman accounted for the next five points to slice the deficit to 33-32 art the 4:14 mark of the third quarter.

Capped by a Hall 3-pointer, the Blue Devils surged forward once again by outscoring the Blue Eagles 8-2. A layup by St. Marys’ Jenna Nichols just as time expired left Magnolia trailing 43-37.

For the first 3 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, Magnolia went into a funk, committing four turnovers on its first six possessions. St. Marys took advantage with seven unanswered points, including two on Walker’s putback.