CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Parkersburg South coach Scott Stephens calls his current state championship contender a little more guard-oriented than his 2006 and 2007 girls state champions.In the Patriots' 67-39 dismantling of Hedgesville Thursday at the Civic Center, they showed as much, right from the opening tap. When Keya Bartlett buried two straight 3-pointers from the right corner, the issue was pretty much settled.Bartlett scored 30 points with five assists and Taryn McCutcheon had 13 points with eight assists as the second-seeded Patriots (18-7) took an 18-6 lead after one quarter and a 35-17 lead at the half. With the Eagles (18-8) committing 20 turnovers and shooting just 22.7 percent, the margin stayed in double digits for three-plus quarters.Bartlett, a sophomore, finished 5 of 11 from 3-point range and 10 of 19 from all distances. She and freshman McCutcheon combined for seven steals."This team is probably more guard-oriented than those teams were," Stephens said. "We were probably more post-oriented [in years past]. Next year, I think we'll have more of a post presence, maybe, than we've had this year. Some of our younger kids are going to fill in that role, but Miranda [Workman] has done a great job, practicing with them and trying to get them better."The 5-foot-9 Workman worked the Eagles over under the basket, scoring 10 points and bringing down eight rebounds. The Patriots outrebounded the Eagles 49-35 and enjoyed a 19-5 lead in second-chance points.So much for the Patriots not being so post-oriented. Right, Ben Merica?"Without a doubt, they have a physical presence underneath," said the Hedgesville coach. "They know where to be, they set good blocks and they're able to move around physically underneath the board. A lot of strength, I'd say, in those young ladies.
"A whole lot of intensity and want-to - they certainly went after every loose ball they could possible get too early."Tonight at 9, the third-seeded Patriots take on No. 2 Morgantown in the second Class AAA semifinal. The Mohigans also booted out an Eastern Panhandle team, beating Martinsburg 45-31 on Wednesday.The seedings are appropriate here - Morgantown beat South 76-50 on Jan. 8 in Parkersburg, then did it again Jan. 19 at Morgantown.That was a few games ago, though. Since then, South has gone 8-1, losing only to prohibitive Class A favorite St. Joseph of Huntington.Along the way, Stephens has seen the development of Bartlett and McCutcheon."We're young, but we've grown up through the year. We've adjusted to the tempo and the speed," Stephens said. "The young kids coming in, the freshmen, they weren't used to the pace, the physicalness and intensity of high school basketball. Halfway through the season, we've adapted to that and we've been playing pretty good basketball lately."We had high hopes at the beginning of the year that these young ladies [McCutcheon and Bartlett] might turn into basketball players by the end of the year. Now we have high expectations, because we know they can do it."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130 or dougsmock@ wvgazette.com or at twitter.com/dougsmock.