CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Behind its defensive intensity and senior guard Josie Daugherty, Class AAA No. 6 Wheeling Park eliminated No. 3 Martinsburg on Thursday night in girls basketball quarterfinal action 48-29.
The Patriots (19-6) scored 25 points off of 27 Martinsburg turnovers and held the Bulldogs (23-3) to just 27 percent shooting on the night.
“The key tonight was definitely our defense,” said Wheeling Park coach Ryan Young. “We were flying around pretty good and we had a couple of games pretty similar to this. I think Martinsburg never really go comfortable offensively and I think it had a lot to do with what we were doing.”
It was Daugherty who led the way for the Patriots all night, finishing with 26 points on 10 of 22 shooting, including a 6 of 13 effort from beyond the arc.
“My team helped me out and once I get one shot or a couple of shots to go in, I feel it,” Daugherty said. “Our defense really helps us on offense because once we get them flustered, they have a hard time getting back on defense and we get to run our stuff and (create) easy shots.”
The Patriots led 20-14 at the half and saw Martinsburg close to within two, 20-18, early in the third. Wheeling Park — specifically Daugherty — responded with a 15-2 run to take control and a comfortable 35-20 lead with just 27 seconds to go in the third.
All of those 15 points were scored by Daugherty.
“She sparked (the run) with her shooting, but I think all of our kids sparked it with their defense,” Young said. “When (Daugherty) was able to knock down a couple of shots, the team starts to feel that energy and it’s contagious. From there, we made it very difficult for (Martinsburg) to climb out of the hole we put them in.”
Martinsburg was led by Cameron Awkard and Ciera Hertelendy who both finished with seven points apiece in the loss.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my team,” said Martinsburg coach Kyle Triggs. “We ran into a Wheeling Park team tonight that made shots — and we didn’t. They were better than we were tonight.
“At times we were able to break the press, but we just weren’t smart with our decision making,” Triggs continued. “You can’t make dumb turnovers against them – they create turnovers and they capitalize off of those.”
Wheeling Park moves on to face No. 2 Buckhannon-Upshur Friday night at 9 p.m. for a spot in Championship Saturday, presented by BrickStreet Insurance.
The Patriots have a regular season win over Buckhannon-Upshur this season, 45-43.
“Defense is our key and that’s what we do,” said Wheeling Park’s Kylie McKennen. “We pressure them, box-out and rebound. They have really good guards who can shoot. We just need to step up with our defense and try to let it take over – if we can do that, then we can win.”