CHARLESTON, W.Va. – South Charleston built an early lead and held off Parkersburg late, beating the Big Reds 59-48 to secure a spot in Friday’s Class AAA girls basketball semifinals.

“For three quarters, we played pretty good basketball. But halfway through the fourth quarter, it was like two different teams,” said South Charleston coach Gary Greene. “Our kids showed a lot of heart, persevered and we held on for the win. But there were some shaky moments.”

The No. 4 Black Eagles (21-5) used a 20-9 second quarter effort to take control, leading 35-19 at the break.

No. 5 Parkersburg (19-6), though, cut a 20-point fourth quarter deficit down to seven, 51-44 and 2:37 remaining, with a 13-0 run over three minutes. The Big Reds’ defensive full-court pressure forced 19 turnovers, directly leading to 30 of their 48 points.

“They were trying to trap Aaliyah (Dunham) with two or three people on her,” Greene said. “The other kids came back and helped and we were able to get it down the floor – once we got it down the floor, a lot of the problems started. We acted like we were down 20 instead of up 11 or 12 and we didn’t take very good care of the ball.”

Still, the Black Eagles withstood Parkersburg’s run and closed the game out in the final minute with breakaway buckets and drives to the basket.

“My mentality was just to keep my teammates up and to take care of the ball,” Dunham said. “We were rushing and it was not needed. It seemed like every time we had the ball, we were turning it over (during Parkersburg’s run).”

Dunham, signed to play at Xavier next season, scored 16 points to lead the Black Eagles, while Haley Baker and Lavender Ward added 14 points apiece in the win. South Charleston overall shot 53 percent, going 25 of 47 from the floor.

Madi Mace scored 15 points to lead the Big Reds in the loss. It was the first trip to the state tournament in 20 years for Parkersburg.

“We didn’t make very many shots and anytime a team puts more buckets in the hole than you, it’s going to be a long day,” said Parkersburg coach Kenny DeMoss. “Hats off to South Charleston, I thought they played really well. Overall, I’m proud of these kids and proud of this team. They’ve accomplished great things this season.”

The Black Eagles move on to face No. 1 Huntington on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m.

“We have to be able to take care of the basketball, attack when we’re supposed to attack and just protect the ball,” Greene said. “It’s all about being able to handle the pressure that Huntington is going to throw at us. Huntington has one of the best presses in the state.”

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