South believes in the magic
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There was magic in the air Saturday night at the Charleston Civic Center.
Sophomore guard Keya Bartlett netted a game-high 26 points behind a record-tying seven 3-pointers to send third-seeded Parkersburg South past No. 5 Logan 58-34 in the Class AAA championship game in front of a vocal crowd of about 4,500.
The matchup featured two teams that no one thought would make it this far.
South (20-7) opened the season with three straight losses then upset No. 2 Morgantown in Friday's semifinals. The Patriots captured their third title in school history - all under coach Scott Stephens - matching the ones from 2006 and 2008.
"This last little run to the state tournament has been about, 'Do you believe in magic?,' '' said Stephens.
Stephens said the players took the verses from the Lovin' Spoonful's 1965 hit "Do You Believe in Magic?" and put their own twist on the words.
"Something about, 'If you believe in magic then go along with me, we'll dance down at Charleston at the state tourney. Maybe if the magic is right we'll win the title on Saturday night.' The girls bought into that and believed in that.''
Logan (17-10) made just its third trip to states in school history and won its first tourney game over No. 4 Princeton in Thursday's quarterfinals, then knocked off No. 1 Spring Valley in the semifinals Friday.
"I wouldn't trade my kids for any team in this state,'' said Logan third-year coach Kevin Gertz. "I want them to look at the big trophy we're taking back and what they've achieved. Nobody will ever take that away from us. I'm so proud of these girls.''
Bartlett's seven 3s tied the single-game mark held by three players - North Marion's Erica Glance (2002), Huntington's Taylor Wheeler (2005) and Bridgeport's Kristy Akers (2011). Bartlett set the record for 3-pointers during a tourney with 14 in three games. Morgantown's Julie Wheeler (1992) and Glance (2002) held the old standard of 11. Bartlett also broke the mark for 3s attempted in a tournament with 34, snapping the old record - held by Fairmont Senior's Ashley Reed in 1998 - by one attempt.
Bartlett was the difference maker, scoring 20 points after halftime and drilling six 3s. She broke Logan's back late in the third quarter when she pumped in three straight long-range bombs that helped South turn a seven-point lead into a comfortable 15-point edge (42-27) with 1:21 left in the period.
"It just feels amazing knowing that the crowd goes wild after I make a shot,'' smiled Bartlett, who made eight 3s in a game during the regular season and holds South's single-season record for made 3-pointers.
"She dropped some big 3s in and really got the momentum going our way,'' Stephens added.
Bartlett nailed back-to-back 3s as the Patriots tallied the first 10 points of the final quarter, doubling up the Wildcats 54-27 with five minutes to go and leaving no doubt about the outcome. Bartlett, however, missed her last five 3s and a chance at the single-game record. She picked up her third foul with 1:30 left in the second quarter on three charging calls, but didn't commit another one the rest of the way.
South freshman point guard Taryn McCutcheon turned in nine points, three boards, 13 assists and six steals while freshman forward Katelyn Byrd chipped in 11 points, four rebounds and three steals. Bartlett and McCutcheon earned all-tournament honors.
Several times during Saturday's title game South had four freshmen and one sophomore on the floor.
"Everybody doubted us thinking we were too young to come up here and win,'' said Byrd. "Just because they doubted us so much it made us push even harder to win this tournament.''
"It all started in third and fourth grade,'' added Bartlett. "We just have that chemistry together and we know how each other plays.''
Logan shot extremely well the entire tournament, but couldn't find the touch Saturday. The Wildcats shot 26.5 percent, including 15.4 percent on 3s, and turned the ball over 21 times and giving the Patriots 17 points. Logan was second in the entire tournament (all three classes) in field-goal percentage (41.5) and was tops in 3-point field-goal percentage (41.0).
Wildcats sophomore guard Shayna Gore scored just 12 points on 5-of-14 shooting after hitting for 36 in the quarterfinal win over Princeton.
"I was struggling,'' said Gore. "I always get down on myself before anybody else. Once I do that my team watches. I guess Parkersburg South wanted it more than us.''
Logan 6-2 freshman center Monica Mitchell donated 11 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. Gore, Mitchell and senior Hannah Tothe were all-tournament selections.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.