CHARLESTON, W.Va. — No. 2-seeded Greenbrier East exploded for a game-ending 19-2 run that suffocated upset-minded Cabell Midland 48-38 in the Class AAA quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Spartans (24-1) held Cabell Midland without a field goal for more than eight minutes in the second half and outscored the No. 7 Knights 14-3 in the decisive fourth quarter.
“When we were sitting on the bench at the end of the third quarter, down by one, I told them this was our quarter,” Greenbrier East coach Jim Justice said. “We switched our defenses up and jumped (Cabell Midland) in the press, and they were out of gas.”
In winning its 12th consecutive game, Greenbrier East got a game-high 23 points from Chaunte McDowell, including five 3-pointers. Sydney Nunley controlled the lane with 19 rebounds and eight blocks, and she added 19 points on 9-of-12 shooting from the floor.
Early in the third quarter Nunley picked up her third foul, but she trusted herself—and her teammates—to stay in the game.
“I just had to watch how I played defense and play smart,” Nunley said. “I knew that if I got beat that Chaunte or someone would be there to help me.”
The Spartans struggled through 16-for-51 shooting from the field and just 19 percent from 3-point range, But in the fourth quarter, McDowell knocked down three 3s to keep the run going.
“Coach said, ‘I don’t care if you look like a ball hog, I want you to shoot the ball 1,000 times,'” McDowell said. “That’s what I did and they started going in for me.”
Cabell Midland (18-7) was led by Sierra Jordan’s 10 points and 13 rebounds. Emily Pitkin, who came in averaging 15 points a game, was held to six points on 3-of-11 shooting.
“Through three quarters we led most of the game, (but) in the fourth we couldn’t buy a basket,” Cabell Midland coach Matt Adkins said. “We got the shots we wanted, they just didn’t fall.”
A key momentum swing occurred with around six minutes left. Cabell Midland’s Haley Haggerty stole a pass from Nunley in the front court and proceeded to miss a layup. Consequently, the Spartans went down and hit a bucket to go up by four.
“I feel like we lost our momentum and it got to our heads, because no one could make anything and we just got a little frazzled,” said Knights senior Stephanie Bias, who finished with eight points.
The Spartans await the winner of the Huntington-Morgantown game in the semifinals on Friday at 9 p.m.