CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Karli Pinkerton, battling a sudden illness, needed intravenous fluids before she played in her biggest game of the season Thursday night.The Sissonville sophomore periodically needed a washcloth for her head and an Indians assistant coach fetched her a Powerade drink. At one point, another assistant took Pinkerton out of the gymnasium for fresh air.Pinkerton, though, not only gutted through all of it, but she was the difference-maker in helping Sissonville earn a 57-40 come-from-behind home win over Chapmanville in the Region 4 co-final.With the victory, the fifth-ranked Indians (21-3) advance to next week's state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center. Seeds will be determined today."It feels really good to be going to the state tournament with this group of girls," Sissonville coach Rich Skeen said. "I don't want to base everything on going to the state tournament but let's be realistic, that is the goal."Sissonville's season may have ended if not for Pinkerton's heroics. The guard struggled with her illness but scored a game-high 24 points, which drew praise from her head coach."The legend of Karli grows," Skeen said. "She was so sick and had to have an IV before the game. She must have hid from me all day (at school) because I didn't even know she was sick. She didn't want to tell me.
"Since I have been coaching her for two years, I have never seen a player play hurt and just fight through it and suck it up. She asked to come out and she has never asked to come out. You knew something was wrong. What a performance. I wouldn't expect any less from her."Pinkerton was just happy to help her team survive and advance."It was really tough but you have to just fight through it to get to where you want to be, and we wanted to be at states," Pinkerton said. "I wasn't feeling very good at all. I took an IV to try and feel better. I was a little nervous about it."Pinkerton asked to come out with 1:24 left in the third quarter but not before helping bring the Indians battle back from a deficit. The visiting Tigers led 32-27 and still by three points when Pinkerton hit back-to-back jumpers to give Sissonville the lead it wouldn't relinquish. Pinkerton's baskets keyed a 10-0 run.Pinkerton scored eight points in the decisive quarter and the Indians cranked up their defense, forcing seven turnovers in the period to take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter. Chapmanville only scored 10 points in the entire second half."We didn't quit and really turned it up defensively," Skeen said. "That is what helped win us the game. They (Chapmanville) went cold and I really liked our effort holding them to 10 points."Sissonville will now have the opportunity next week to win their second state title after winning the girls soccer championship in the fall. It's a goal that Pinkerton and the rest of the Indians have on their mind."It feels great," Pinkerton said. "This year has been pretty great. We are hoping to win one in basketball too. Everybody stepped up."