CHARLESTON, W. Va. — It’s championship Saturday for all three classifications at the girls state tournament, and the pressure is palpable to the point of palpitations.
Kevin Gertz, the coach for Class AAA finalist Logan, is eight months removed from a heart attack and experienced a scare at halftime of Friday’s semifinal win. After being examined by EMT staff, he came out for the second half and watched his Lady Wildcats pull out a heartstopping 52-49 upset of No. 1 Spring Valley in the final seven seconds.
“I don’t think it was my heart,” Gertz said, “but I need to get checked out, because I’m not where I need to be health-wise.
“I’m 45 years old, and I may not make it to 46 coaching these girls, but I can’t die tonight.”
Logan faces Parkersburg South for the Class AAA banner on Saturday night, in what should be a competitive conclusion to a day filled with the intriguing matchups.
Class A championship
No. 1 St. Joseph (24-1) vs. No. 3 St. Marys (25-1)
Junior point guard Mychal Johnson triggers a St. Joseph squad operating in dynasty mode, having won four straight state titles. The Notre Dame commitment came up one steal shy of a quadruple-double in the quarterfinals and followed that up with 23 points, six assists and six steals in a 63-31 semifinal win over Tucker County.
Now she’s focused on helping the Irish claim a fifth consecutive championship.
“I don’t think any other team in the state has our chemistry, because we’ve played together so long,” Johnson said. “We’re going to keep it going, hopefully.”
St. Joseph coach Shannon Lewis is wary of the St. Marys frontline, saying, “they can hurt us on rebounding and getting it into their bigs.”
One of those bigs is 6-foot 4 Kendra Walker, who piled up 14 points and 16 rebounds in a semifinal win over No. 2 Wheeling Central.
“I’m confident,” Walker said. “We play so well as a team, we have everything we need.”
St. Marys lost to St. Joseph in the 2010 and 2011 finals.
Class AA championship
No. 1 Westside (25-1) vs. No. 2 Bridgeport (24-2)
Westside is the defending champion, but Bridgeport sports the most dynamic player of the tournament so far — senior point guard Miki Glenn.
The senior has 73 points in her team’s two state-tourney wins, including 40 in Friday’s 57-48 win over Nicholas County.
What would a Class AA state championship mean after Bridgeport settled for the runner-up spot in Class AAA last season?
“It would be the cherry on top of a very tall cake,” Glenn said. “But really, it’s just another game. Sure, it’s for all the marbles, but it’s just another game.”
Westside must find an answer for Glenn who is 36-of-41 from the foul line in her last two games, including a Class AA-record 19 free throws in the quarterfinals.
“Miki is a great player,” said Westside coach Jamie Lusk. “We have to do a great job of keeping her out of the lane and away from making her left-handed shot. But I think they have to find a way to stop us as well.”
Class AAA championship
No. 3 Parkersburgh South (19-7) vs. No. 5 Logan (17-9)
Hannah Tothe delivered the 3-point game-winner as Logan stunned Spring Valley. The senior frequently defers to the scoring of standout sophomore Shayna Gore, but she’s a clutch perimeter shooter. The Lady Wildcats also have a tough freshman center in Monica MItchell, giving them enough ammunition to battle third-seeded Parkersburg South.
“It seems like they must be playing with some swagger after what they did to Spring Valley today,” said Parkersburg South coach Scott Stephens. “They’re the underdogs in this thing and they’ve got everything to play for. It’s going to be a ballgame tomorrow.”
Logan coach Kevin Gertz said he planned to do some late-night scouting on Parkersburg South, whose semifinal game against Morgantown didn’t end until 11:15 p.m. Friday.
“I think they are the best-coached team in the state,” Gertz said. “I have some film that I will watch and put together a scouting report and go over some things with the girls in the morning.”