MADISON, W.Va. - Last season did not end the way Ali Jo Whitman expected or wanted.Nicholas County knocked off Scott in the regional co-finals, robbing the Skyhawks of a fourth consecutive state tournament appearance."Ali and the other seniors were a little ticked off," Scott coach John Porter said of Whitman, a four-year starter who has helped the Skyhawks to a 75-27 record during her career. "They have talked about it. They know we messed it up big time last year."Whitman was determined not to let it happen again this season, which the senior leader and team captain demonstrated Thursday night in Scott's 50-34 victory versus visiting Herbert Hoover in the Class AA Region 4 co-finals.
"To go from the state runner-up three years in a row to not making it at all last year was tough," said Whitman, who topped the 1,000-point mark in her career during the game. "We knew we had to do it this year because it is our senior year. It was all or nothing."Whitman, a 6-foot-3 post player who has signed with the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, scored 27 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, both game highs."Ali played a nice game," Porter said.Whitman was the only double-digit scorer for the Skyhawks, but her teammates contributed in other ways.Senior guard/forward Julie Conway finished with nine points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals. Freshman guard Maddy Weeks added seven points, eight rebounds, four steals and two assists.Senior guard Jaimee Dotson had five points, three steals, one assist and one rebound. Junior forward Andrea Rankin came off the bench to give the Skyhawks two points, four rebounds, two assists, one block and one steal."We shouldn't have lost last year," Conway said. "We knew how it felt to lose and not be able to continue. We didn't want to go out that way this year. We want to go all the way as seniors."It will be the seventh state tournament appearance for the Skyhawks, who played in back-to-back-to-back championship games in 2010, 2011 and 2012."I think we will be in the lower half of the seeds," said Porter, whose team improved to 18-5, "but I think we can compete with anybody there."Herbert Hoover ended its season with an 18-6 record, with all of its losses coming against Cardinal Conference co-champions Scott and Sissonville. The Skyhawks defeated the Huskies four times, including three times during the regular season: 55-47 on Dec. 14 on a neutral floor at a holiday tournament, 65-59 on Feb. 17 on the road and 68-58 on Feb. 20 at home.Incidentally, Scott never played Herbert Hoover at full strength. Whitman missed the first game against the Huskies, Conway missed the second and third, and junior forward Landyn McKinney missed the fourth.
Like Whitman, McKinney averages a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds per game."She probably could have played tonight if we had needed her," Porter said of McKinney, who sat with a knee injury.Herbert Hoover led 14-10 after the first quarter behind the play of senior forward Hannah King, who scored seven of her team-high 13 points in the opening period.Scott responded with a 15-5 run to take a 25-19 lead at halftime. The Huskies cut the lead to one at 32-31 with 1:36 remaining in the third quarter, but the Skyhawks scored 15 of the next 17 points to push their lead to 47-33 with 2:38 left in the game."We realized it was time to put the gas pedal down," Porter said. "They do that every time we play them. They are a scrappy team, and they outhustled us tonight."