CHARLESTON, W.Va. – After a one-year anomaly, St. Joseph Central is again back on top in Class A high school girls basketball.
The fifth-seeded Irish (18-9) comfortably won their eighth title in nine seasons on Saturday afternoon, beating No. 6 Williamstown 64-46.
The Irish avenged last year’s state title loss to Gilmer County with a quarterfinal win over the Titans — prior to rolling through both the semifinal and Saturday’s title game.
“I was disappointed last year and disappointed in myself, maybe feeling we weren’t quite as prepared as I thought we were,” said St. Joe coach Shannon Lewis. “We had a decline at the end of the season last year and never got right. That’s probably why I was more intense this year – I really wanted it for the kids.”
On Saturday, Williamstown (21-6) hit the game’s first shot – a deep 3 from Ashley Morris.
It was the only lead for the Yellowjackets.
St. Joe immediately answered with an 11-0 run. A 10-0 run to end the first quarter for St. Joe gave the Irish a 21-9 lead heading into the second.
“We just had to settle down a little bit and concentrate on our shots – we had some little jitters there early,” Lewis said. “They made three 3s in the first quarter, but that was all that they made. We were doing some good things around the basket.”
Morris was coming off of a 34-point effort in the semifinals against Wheeling Central. Saturday, she was limited to 13 points, going 3 of 16 from the floor.
“I was honestly kind of worried at first (guarding Morris),” said St. Joe freshman Bailiee Adkins. “I figured if she went around me, Tyesha (Taylor) would step up or Dena (Jarrells) would come over and trap. I saw that she had 34 points, but I thought that we could stop here, because we’ve been playing as a team.”
Bailee, specifically, led all players in the Class A tournament, averaging 6.3 steals and 5.3 assists per game. On Saturday, she couldn’t have been much better, finishing with six points, eight assists, eight steals and no turnovers.
“I’ll ride with her in any game,” Lewis said. “She’s been a player for me for years and I’ve known her since she was little. I call her a winner and she’ll do whatever it takes to win the game, as the other kids on this team will, too.”
St. Joe took a 39-28 lead into the half behind Alexis Hall’s 10 points. A dominant 15-6 third quarter for the Irish extended their lead out to 54-34 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Irish scored 22 points off of 20 forced turnovers.
Dena Jarrells led St. Joe with 17 points, while Paige Shy added 15 points. Hall finished with 12 for the Irish as well.
Williamstown was led by Morris’ 13 points in the loss.
“This is what we came for, this is why we came. We wanted to get (to the title game) and we wanted to win it,” said Williamstown coach Fred Sauro. “We felt a little disappointed, but it was still a wonderful job. These kids are tough. We’re really, really proud of them.”
St. Joe placed four players on the all-tournament team in Jarrells, Shy, Bailee Adkins and Taylor.
Morris and Samantha Dedrick both made the all-tournament team from Williamstown, while Summers County’s Whittney Justice and Wheeling Central’s Taylor Duplaga rounded out the team.