NITRO, W.Va. -- Sierra Jordan and Emily Pitkin are the glue for Cabell Midland.That was never more evident than Friday night when 5-foot-11 senior Jordan turned in 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks and 6-2 senior Pitkin added 20 points, 15 boards and two blocks in the visiting Knights' 67-53 victory over previously unbeaten Nitro in a clash of state-ranked girls high school basketball team. A crowd of about 400 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference West Division opening matchup at Nitro High School.Midland's duo was unstoppable down low as Jordan made 9 of 15 shots and Pitkin 9 of 14. Jordan (10 points) and Pitkin (four) paced the Knight' surge in the second quarter, a 19-4 run to end the period giving Midland a 19-point lead (42-23) at halftime."It's just a tremendous advantage,'' said Midland coach Matt Adkins, whose team hit 51 percent from the field and held a 36-26 rebounding edge. "With them underneath it allows us to take more chances [on defense]. On offense we can run an inside-out game. Just all kinds of benefits, really.''Sophomore Haley Haggerty chipped in 10 points for Midland (8-1), which was No. 10 in this week's Associated Press poll.No. 6 Nitro (10-1) made a spirited run in the second half. The Wildcats sliced their deficit to 13 points (53-40) on a 15-3 run to end the third quarter. Junior point guard Savannah Shamblin tallied nine straight points during the spurt.Jordan and sophomore Summer Stephenson each scored buckets for Midland to start the final quarter as the Knights took a more comfortable 57-40 advantage with 7:12 to go. Shamblin just missed on two 3s - one that went halfway down before popping out and another that sat on the rim for a moment - that would have cut the Wildcats' deficit to single digits.
Shamblin finished with a game-high 27 points with six rebounds and three assists for Nitro while senior center Halie Miller donated 11 points and seven boards."Those two girls are tough,'' Nitro coach Will Samuel said of Midland's Jordan and Pitkin. "I knew the key to winning was getting on the glass and keeping their post players in check and we weren't able to do that."We have a lot of positives. When was the last time we were 10-1? The girls were really upset so they want to win every game. Last year we would go into places and realize we're going to get beat. This year they believe they can compete with everyone we play.''Midland has only lost to No. 3 Huntington so far."We've got some good perimeter players, but right now our strength is on the inside,'' Adkins said. "I think [Jordan and Pitkin] can carry us a long way. We're feeling very well about how the girls are playing. They're coming alive.'' Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.