HAMBLETON, W.Va. — Back on Dec. 6, Tucker County’s girls basketball team traveled to Clarksburg to face Notre Dame in its season opener.
Playing without injured 5-foot-10 post player Tera Kuhn, the Mountain Lions suffered a 58-39 loss to the Irish in what was their fourth game of the season.
Fast forward to Friday evening when the Irish visited TCHS for the regular season rematch and Kuhn’s impact could be felt early and often. She scored 10 first-quarter points and 20 for the game to go with 14 rebounds, leading Tucker County to a 59-43 win and a regular season split with the Irish.
“We lost to this team and we’re a little bit different than we were the first game of the season,” Tucker County coach Dave Helmick said. “They’ve been wanting to prove that to everybody.”
Kuhn’s first two baskets were scored on a follow-up and a jump shot, and she accounted for three more field goals from close range over the remainder of the opening quarter to help the Mountain Lions (11-3) build a 16-5 lead entering the second quarter.
The Irish (11-4) got off to a strong start in the second and closed to within 20-13 on a Taylor Martino field goal in the post.
However, Tucker County answered with a 6-0 run and following another Martino basket, Kuhn drained a jumper from the high post and Riley Evans connected on a 3-pointer to send the Mountain Lions into halftime with a commanding 31-15 lead.
The Mountain Lions attempted 11 more shots (33-22) than the Irish over the first two quarters thanks in large part to a 29-12 rebounding advantage. Kuhn had a lot to do with both, as she went into the break with 12 points and nine boards.
“We make shots usually and we didn’t make any shots tonight,” Irish coach Bob Martino said. “Defensively, we gave up the baseline at least ten times tonight. We also didn’t rebound the ball very well.”
The game looked to be out of reach for the Irish when Kuhn made a pull-up jumper to up the TCHS lead to 40-22 in the third quarter. But the Irish answered with an 8-0 run to end the frame, getting three free throws from Emma McKeen, a conventional three-point play by Martino and an Emilee Henderson jumper at the buzzer.
“Our whole focus was to push pace and we got up to an 18-point lead, we got into a little bit of foul trouble and then we kind of quit pushing the pace and they got back in it a little bit,” Helmick said. “Ultimately what we wanted to do tonight is what we did — push the pace. These girls were focused.”
Tucker County again then appeared to be in complete control early in the fourth quarter after getting field goals from Kuhn, Mckinley Murphy and Kelcee James to hold a 46-30 lead.
Trailing 48-32, the Irish pulled to within 10 on consecutive 3s by Henderson and Morgan Turner, only to have Evans answer with a trey to move the lead back out to 13.
McKeen’s three-point play and a Martino layup brought the Irish to within 51-43 with 3:30 to play, but the Mountain Lions scored the final eight points down the stretch to pull away.
The 59 points scored by Tucker County are the most the Irish have allowed to any opponent this season.
“Tucker County is good,” coach Martino said. “But we just didn’t shoot the ball well and didn’t defend well. That’s the most points we’ve given up all year and a lot of them were second-chance points. It’s a tough place to play and our girls have to grow up.”
Evans added 15 points with all three of her team’s 3s in the win, while Murphy added 10 points and six rebounds.
In addition to making 26 field goals, Tucker County held a 45-25 rebounding advantage.
Martino scored 18 points to lead all ND players. Henderson and McKeen followed with 11 points apiece, while McKeen had a team-best 10 rebounds in the loss.
In the nightcap that followed the girls game, three Notre Dame players scored more than 20 points to lift the Irish to an 83-73 win over the Mountain Lions.
Joel Maurer led Notre Dame (12-1) with 25 points, Gabe Zummo followed with 24 and freshman point guard Jaidyn West poured in 23 to do the bulk of the damage for the Irish in a road win.
Notre Dame took a 41-36 lead into halftime, before scoring 25 points over the next eight minutes to hold a 66-50 advantage after three quarters.
Jeffrey Snyder led all players with 32 points in defeat, while fellow Mountain Lion Corrick Ambrose scored 19.
Tucker County fell to 4-9 with the loss in its first matchup of the season against the Irish.