FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Whether home or away, Herbert Hoover used to be an easy mark.That has changed, and Scott found that out fast Tuesday night.The Skyhawks leaned heavily on their inside presence and hit just enough free throws down the stretch to keep the host Huskies at bay for a 55-51 victory. A crowd of about 200 attended the Class AA Cardinal Conference matchup at Hoover.Hoover used a surge near the end of the fourth quarter to pull within four points (49-45) on a pair of foul shots by sophomore Bailey Aab and one free throw from freshman Hannah Schoolcraft. Scott junior Julie Conway made a pair from the charity stripe and converted a putback to push the Skyhawks' lead to 53-45 with 36.8 seconds to go.
The Huskies weren't finished, however, as sophomore Bethany Romine drained a 3-pointer to slice the deficit to five points (53-48) with 19.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter.Hoover had to foul, and Scott junior Jaimee Dotson converted two foul shots for a 55-48 edge with 11.4 seconds remaining but Hoover senior Jordan Marshall banked in a 3 with 6.4 seconds to go to close within 55-51.Scott threw the inbounds pass the length of the court and Aab intercepted, but Hoover ran out of time. The Skyhawks missed two foul shots in the final 55.3 seconds but secured the rebound each time to thwart the Huskies' comeback bid.The Skyhawks' inside presence of 6-foot-3 junior Ali Whitman and 6-1 sophomore Andrea Rankin was too much for height-challenged Hoover as the duo combined for 29 points on 13-of-21 shooting, 17 rebounds and 11 blocks. Whitman finished with 15 points on 6-of-13 accuracy with 10 boards and four blocks while Rankin added 14 points with seven caroms and seven blocks.Dotson turned in 12 points, four assists and five steals for Scott (10-7) and Conway contributed seven points, nine boards and two steals. The Skyhawks blocked 12 shots, outrebounded the Huskies by 11 (44-33) and held them to 30.6 percent shooting. "We didn't do a very good job,'' said Skyhawks coach John Porter. "We weren't playing with intensity. We just had one or two playing in spurts. We've been off for about a week, but we're starting to play well finally.''The Skyhawks have been feeling their way around this season after state player of the year Makenzie White graduated after leading them to three straight state tournament finals appearances."I feel pretty good about the next two or three weeks,'' Porter said. "Whitman showed us something tonight.''Scott defeated Hoover by 30 points in Madison in early January."We're disappointed that we lost, but we're not disappointed in how we played and the effort,'' said Hoover coach Greg Ullman, whose team missed 10 foul shots. "I think we fought and scratched hard inside. If I looked at a shot chart the scoring inside the lane was the whole game."It's just a size thing. [Scott] is just a lot for us to handle inside. We made good moves to the basket and they drove hard to the hole. A couple of rebounds at the end that we probably should have gotten could have really changed the game.''
Freshman Kari Harding totaled 12 points for Hoover (10-7) and Aab chipped in 11 points and six boards.The Huskies are chasing their first winning season since 1996 relying mostly on underclassmen."A lot of times out there we had freshmen and sophomores on the floor,'' said Ullman, who last year guided Hoover to its first regional final appearance since the early 1990s. "At times that was probably all that was on the floor."We've got a good group. They like each other and seem to play well together. It's a lot of good chemistry right now. When you go into a game and you're shorter at every position I think we play as a team.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.