CHARLESTON, W.Va. – St. Joseph Central, despite its No. 5 seed, has found itself back in a familiar position after Friday’s 79-59 win over No. 1 Summers County in the girls basketball state tournament semifinals.
“I thought we executed really well today in our half-court, even in the first half, we shot well,” said St. Joe coach Shannon Lewis. “They have three very talented players and we had to try to keep them in front of us. We went to a zone to contain them a little bit – but when we make shots, we’re pretty good.”
The Irish (17-9) on Saturday will play for their eighth title in the last nine seasons.
Friday afternoon’s matchup against the Bobcats (24-3) was supposed to be a battle to the end between two of the state’s perennial power programs.
Instead, St. Joe gained control early, shot 57 percent, forced 24 Summers County turnovers and cruised to the convincing 20-point win.
“We did turn them over, but our offensive efficiency was really good today,” Lewis said. “We got good shots almost on every possession and then got some buckets off of some turnovers. We got them a little bit out of sync in that zone.”
The Irish had five players finish in double figures, led by Paige Shy’s 19 points. Tyesha Taylor added 17 points, Dena Jarrells scored 16 points, while Bailee Adkins and Alexis Hall both scored 11 points apiece.
Whittney Justice scored 24 points for Summers County and Brittney Justice contributed 19 points in the loss.
The Bobcats shot 52 percent from the floor, but couldn’t overcome St. Joe’s offensive efficiency or turnovers.
“Our team played hard the whole game,” said Summers County coach Sarah Blevins. “St. Joe has formulated a great team throughout the years and has been successful in the past – that was to be expected. We gave it everything we had and that was the end result.”
The win for St. Joe snapped a 21-game winning streak for Summers County.
St. Joseph Central will face No. 6 Williamstown at noon on Saturday for the Class A championship.
“They are playing well and (Ashley) Morris has been lights out lately,” Lewis said. “We played them twice last year and were able to get them in the regional final. But we just have to do what we do and handle their pressure if they try to speed up. But that’s kind of our game, too, at times – so the matchup is kind of unique.”