BECKLEY, W.Va. — A layup by Greenbrier East’s Haley McClure broke a 55-all tie with 31 seconds to play, and the Spartans went on to a 60-55 victory over Martinsburg in one of two girls championships Saturday at the Big Atlantic Classic at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Within a couple hours after the game was completed, attention was turned toward a far more important matter as a bus carrying members of the Martinsburg team crashed on the Eisenhower Drive I-64 eastbound entrance ramp in Beckley.
The wreck occurred about 8:49 p.m. less than two miles from the venue of the game and reports indicated the bus overturned. All 16 passengers were transported to nearby hospitals.
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who also serves as head coach of Greenbrier East, sent out a Tweet at 10:15 p.m.
I ask all West Virginians to join me in praying for the coaches, players, and all those associated with the Martinsburg High School Girls Basketball Team after they were involved in a vehicle accident tonight on I-64.
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) February 3, 2019
As for the contest, Greenbrier East (16-2) led for the majority of it, overcoming an early 6-0 deficit to lead 16-10 after one quarter. The Spartans upped their lead to 29-20 at halftime after McClure totaled a double double of 11 points and 14 rebounds over the first two quarters.
Although Greenbrier East shot just 31.4 percent in the first half (11-of-35) it attempted 14 more shots than the Bulldogs (13-4), who had 12 turnovers and were out-rebounded 25-18.
“We’re a really aggressive team on the boards. We’re not all that big, but our timing is good and we work on it a lot,” Justice said. “To be a great rebounder, you don’t have to just be a great leaper, you have to have great timing.”
But Martinsburg made its move in the third quarter, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Kylie Roberts to help draw to within 35-28, before back-to-back layups by Amelia Jenkins and Prosperity Stitt allowed the Bulldogs to trail by just three.
A 3 by Kate Perkins in response gave the Spartans a six-point lead, and they settled for a 42-36 advantage entering the fourth.
After a McClure layup gave Greenbrier East a 50-43 lead, the Bulldogs got five straight points Deaira Hairston to cut their deficit to two points.
Hairston made two free throws with 1:15 remaining to trim the Spartans’ lead to 53-52, before Perkins answered by making a pair from the charity stripe with 1:05 left.
A Hairston 3 from the corner with 50 seconds left tied the game at 55, but she missed a pair of shots down the stretch, including a trey that would have tied the game at 58 with four seconds left.
Greenbrier East outscored Martinsburg 18-9 from the free throw line, though both teams had their fair share of attempts, with the Spartans shooting 24 and the Bulldogs 18.
Each squad was whistled for 19 fouls.
“They’re rough and we’re rough,” Justice said, “and that made it hard on the officials.”
McClure finished with 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Perkins, Autumn Hill and Amya Damon scored 10 apiece in the win.
Abbie Barenslager had 11 rebounds in the victory as well.
Roberts led MHS with 17 points, while Hairston scored all 11 of her points in the second half.