CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The last time St. Albans faced Hurricane, Red Dragons coach Scott James bemoaned his team's lackluster effort and lack of energy in a three-point loss on Feb. 3.There was no questioning either element of the Class AAA No. 8 Dragons' game on Wednesday night in a Class AAA Region 4, Section 1 semifinal at Tex Williams Gym in St. Albans. Sophomore point guard Torri Wilson hit 3-pointers on four of her first five shots and junior center Breanna Propst dominated the paint as SA advanced to Friday's sectional final with a blistering 69-35 win over the Redskins."I thought we shot the ball really good tonight," Wilson said of her team's 10-of-20 showing from 3-point range. Wilson and company were 8-of-16 from behind the arc in the first half as St. Albans put the game away early, getting out to a 38-15 lead by halftime."We came out knowing that we didn't shoot well the last time, so we knew we had to knock some down," Wilson said. "It was relieving (to start off strong) because I know we also had to keep pushing to make sure they didn't come back."
Hurricane simply had no answer for St. Albans' strong defense and better-than-usual perimeter shooting. Redskins junior guard Abby Watson, who led the Kanawha Valley and Mountain State Athletic Conference in regular-season scoring, was held to 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Watson, hounded by SA 5-foot-6 junior guard Lexie Cooper throughout much of the night in SA's 3-2 zone, was 0-for-10 from 3-point range."She's by far one of the best players in the state of West Virginia," SA coach Scott James said of Watson. "There's different philosophies out there, but when you've got a player the caliber of Abby Watson, our philosophy was try to limit her as much as possible and make the other kids beat us."We wanted the ball out of her hands as much as possible and try to eliminate the penetration," James said. "Don't leave her and whoever's there when she's in, we played that 3-2 zone and they were not to leave her. I'm extremely proud of the way the girls played tonight."Watson came in averaging almost 24 points per game. In fact, junior guard Audrey Barber led Hurricane with 14 points, with most of them coming in the second half.
After Wilson opened the game up with basket after basket, however, St. Albans got its first of several offensive boosts from freshman reserve Alli Johnson, who came off the bench and sank three first-half 3-pointers. Cooper got into the act as well, finishing with 12 points and 3-of-5 shooting from 3-point range. Wilson had 14 points and a game-high five assists."We knew they were going to shoot better than they did last time," Hurricane coach Austin Lowe said. "We played real well last time, we made shots that we didn't make tonight. We couldn't throw in the ocean tonight."Any Hurricane hope of a comeback was erased in the second half as Propst took over. After being honored in pregame ceremonies for surpassing the 1,000-point mark for her career last week, the junior finished with a game-high 18 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots.Propst said it was important for her team to maintain its focus through the entire game even though its result was all but settled early on."At time, I think, you get really worried but then after a while you just shut down," Propst said. "It was important that we stay focused."St. Albans plays host to Winfield on Friday night for the sectional title and a berth in a Region 4 co-final. Propst said the team's focus must remain on its next foe rather than on a potential state tournament berth."Even though we beat them we've still got to come out and play like we've never beaten them before," Propst said.
St. Albans beat the Generals 55-40 in Winfield on Feb. 7.Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.