PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Parkersburg girls basketball coach Scott Cozzens believes his team’s depth could be its best asset.
On a Big Reds’ team with a lengthy list of strengths, Cozzens’ thoughts are meaningful and in Wednesday’s Class AAA showdown against South Charleston that depth was on full display. Thirteen Parkersburg players scored and the Big Reds clamped down defensively to roll past the Black Eagles 62-32.
“We’re so deep. Some of the injuries have been a blessing in disguise,” Cozzens said. “We’ve been able to play a lot of kids and they’ve all gotten a lot better.”
After taking a 31-19 lead into halftime, Parkersburg (11-1) held South Charleston (10-2) scoreless in the third quarter to open up a 31-point lead ahead of the fourth.
Shay Kirby scored eight of the Big Reds’ 19 points in the third, including a 3-pointer and a conventional three-point play on back-to-back possessions to give her team a 42-19 advantage. Madi Mace, playing her first game since Dec. 15, connected on a 10-foot jumper to stretch the lead to 25, before Kristen Lowers, Emily Kupfner and Maggie Richards each scored from close range to cap the third-quarter scoring.
South Charleston finished the quarter 0-of-7 shooting with seven turnovers.
“We’re a little different team than we were last year. We have a little bit more footspeed with some of these young kids stepping up and we can really go after the ball this year.” Cozzens said. “Last year we played a lot of zone at the end of the year, but this year it’s been a blueprint all year and we just press, press, press and wear you down and it eventually pays dividends in the second half.”
The Big Reds got off to a strong start and reeled off 14 unanswered points following a 3 by South Charleston’s Genevieve Potter for the game’s first points. Five different PHS players scored during the early surge, while nine scored in a first half that saw the Big Reds force 13 SC turnovers.
The Black Eagles had 12 more turnovers in the second half to finish with 25.
“We talked at halftime about energy and if we play with great energy and take care of the basketball, it’s a pretty good formula for us,” Cozzens said. “I don’t have to have kids play eight minute quarters. They can play a three-minute quarter and a teammate can come in and give the same energy or more energy. We’ve bought into that.”
Lashae Watts finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
Kirby’s 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting led Parkersburg, while Mace scored nine.
Richards added six points and five boards in the victory — Parkersburg’s third straight since its first and only loss of the season against St. Joseph Central.
South Charleston played its third straight game without standout guard Lavender Ward, who missed her third straight game with a knee injury.