CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Bluefield advanced into Saturday’s Class AA girls basketball state championship game with a 55-43 win over No. 4 Winfield from the Charleston Civic Center.

The top-ranked Beavers (23-2) led 21-7 after the first quarter and 33-23 at half. It was an initial 9-0 run to start the game that set the tone immediately for the Beavers.

“I think we just push it, we help each other and we move the ball well,” said Bluefield senior Jia Coppola. “If someone is hot, we get the ball to them and we play as a team, moving the ball around.”

Winfield chipped away in the second half and eventually pulled to within four points, 44-40 at the 5:04 mark of the fourth quarter on a Meagan Cavender 3.

“We just did what we know how to do,” said Bluefield sophomore Autumn Spangler. “We didn’t want to go home and were ready to move on to the championship game.”

Bluefield, though, answered with nine straight points to close out the win. The two teams combined for 43 turnovers, but Bluefield shot 52.6 percent from the floor and held Winfield to just 35.8 percent shooting.

“We just try to incorporate our defense, because defense is where it’s at for us,” Coppola said. “That’s what gets us going and it helps our offense.”

The Beavers were led by Spangler’s 18 points, while Winfield (23-4) was paced by Mary Lawman’s 12 points.

“We had a great season, but we’re disappointed that it ended this way tonight,” said Winfield coach Shawn Lucas. “We faced an aggressive team tonight that was ready to play.”

Bluefield moves on to face No. 2 Fairmont Senior Saturday at 2:30 p.m. for the Class AA championship.

“They’re a very good team and that’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” said Bluefield coach Tony Mallamaci. “But I think if we come out and play the best that we can play, like the game we had at Westside – I believe we could have beaten anybody in the state that night – if we can duplicate that, then I think we’ll be okay.”

A win for Bluefield Saturday would be the first girls basketball championship in school history.

“We want it and it’s never happened before,” Coppola said. “If we play our game, I feel like we’ll make it and we’ll get what we want.”

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