CHARLESTON, W.Va. – No. 1 Summers County won its 21st straight game by beating eighth-seeded Charleston Catholic 42-35 in a Class A state quarterfinal on Wednesday.
The Bobcats (24-2), after scoring more than 80 points in each of their previous postseason games, found themselves in a defensive battle against the Irish (17-10).
It was the third meeting between the two teams this season with Summers County winning all three matchups – the last two, though, by single digits.
“I thought Charleston Catholic played extremely and we knew that was going to happen,” said Summers County coach Sarah Blevins. “They slowed the game down, which is not the way we like to play, and I think people know that. We had a hard time in the half-court set and they did a tremendous job against us.”
Senior Whittney Justice took control by scoring all 12 of Summers County’s fourth-quarter points and finishing with 24 overall.
“I had to settle for jump shots, but Charleston Catholic had a really good game plan,” Justice said. “I don’t care if I scored two points, as long as we win.”
Justice finished 9-of-22 from the floor. Her twin sister, Brittney Justice, who averages 22 points per game, was limited to just four points on 2-of-5 shooting.
“It’s not just those two players,” said Charleston Catholic coach Zack Bogan. “Hannah Taylor is a great player, too (for Summers County). They were the focal point of our game plan and we did a pretty good job.
“But every time we needed a crucial stop, Whittney (Justice) just kept hitting shot after shot,” he continued. “They were tough shots and contested shots. Tip your hat to her, she’s a great basketball player and made big shots for them.”
Summers County erased an early 6-5 deficit with a 9-0 run and eventually took a 14-8 lead in to the second quarter.
The Bobcats held a 22-18 lead at the break and a 30-29 advantage going into the fourth quarter. A 3 from Charleston Catholic’s Maddy Blaydes tied the game at 32-32 with 6:59 to go in the fourth quarter.
Summers County, behind Justice, responded an 8-3 run to take a 40-35 lead and just a minute to go.
“I think it’s always good to go through growing pains and get the jitters out – any time you play in this atmosphere, you’re going to have that,” Blevins said. “While it’s difficult in the moment, it’s good for us in the long run. We know what’s ahead and we’re ready for the challenge.”
Vida Imani led Charleston Catholic with 15 points in the loss.
Summers County moves on to face either Gilmer County or St. Joseph Central in the semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m.