FAIRMONT, W.Va. — Class AAA No. 1 Buckhannon-Upshur built an early lead off of forced turnovers and went on for a 62-42 road win over Class AA defending state champion Fairmont Senior on Thursday.
“We had to gut it out on the road,” said Buckhannon coach Jeremy Maxwell. “This is a tough place to play and that’s a tough team. They’re really physical, fast-paced and really good defensively.
“We did a great job on defense tonight, but struggled offensively,” he continued. “We missed some shots and free throws – we’ve got to fix that if we’re going win some close games down the road.”
Hanna McClung scored 27 points to lead Buckhannon, going 13 of 14 from the free throw line. She also was pivotal as a ball-handler, helping break Fairmont’s full-court defensive press.
“It was everything tonight,” Maxwell said of McClung. “But we have to give her some help. We have very capable girls who I have seen very confident with the ball – but sometimes that doesn’t happen. This was a good win. We need to be challenged like this. This is a good confidence builder, as well as a character builder.”
Buckhannon-Upshur improved to 10-1 with the win, picking up its sixth straight victory. The Buccaneers debuted last week as the top ranked team in the MetroNews Power Index, eyeing a return to the state championship game where they finished as runners-up a year ago.
“I’m just itching to get back to Charleston,” McClung said. “This whole group of girls is, too. That’s our whole motivation behind everything. We were blessed last year to be the Big 10 champs and state runner-up, but we want that blue banner – we want that state championship. That’s our drive.
“It’s an extreme blessing to be ranked No. 1 because it’s never happened in our program before,” she continued. “There’s a little bit of pressure that comes with that, but there’s also a little bit of confidence that we need to have in ourselves, knowing we are capable of beating any team.”
It was the first in-state loss for the Polar Bears, rated No. 3 in the MetroNews Power Index, who dropped to 10-2. Fairmont Senior is also playing without its first team all-state standout Anysa Jordan who is out for the season with an ACL injury.
Stephanie Vincent led Fairmont Senior on Thursday with 12 points in the loss. Alli Robinson added 12 points and Lauren Bennett scored 10 points for Buckhannon behind McClung.