CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center is regarded as a tough place to shoot.
Someone forgot to tell the Wheeling Central girls basketball team, which made 50 percent of its field goal attempts, 55 percent of its 3-point tries and 90 percent of its free throws Wednesday night to roll by Tucker County 69-39 in a Class A quarterfinal.
“I’ll take that in any gym,” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said. “When you shoot the ball like that, it makes everything so much easier. We have great shooters. I wouldn’t want to try and defend them if I was the other coach.”
It was a dominating effort for the No. 4 Maroon Knights (16-9), who are one win away from having a chance to repeat as state champions.
Wheeling Central will next face No. 1 Saint Joseph Central at 1 p.m. Friday in a rematch of last year’s title game.
“Give me a paper cut and rub some lemon juice in it,” Kurtz joked. “Can we enjoy this for a little bit?”
The Maroon Knights set the tone early against Tucker County (17-7), and Eden Gainer was a big reason why.
Gainer poured in 10 first-quarter points to stake Central to a 21-8 lead after one quarter, then scored nine more in the second to help her team hold a 34-19 halftime lead.
At the break, Gainer had 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and had made all six of her free throws. She also had five of her team’s eight steals.
“I just tried to do everything for us to win and I tried to help my teammates out,” Gainer said. “We need them to score too so I try to keep them involved.”
The third quarter was relatively even, with the Maroon Knights outscoring the Mountain Lions 15-13 to take a 49-32 lead into the fourth.
While Gainer did a little bit of everything in finishing with 28 points, six rebounds, six steals and five assists, she wasn’t without help.
Kaylee Reinbeau added 18 points and nine rebounds in the win and was perhaps even more impressive defensively in holding Tucker’s leading scorer Terra Kuhn to six points on 3-of-13 shooting.
“When Kaylee makes up her mind, she can guard anybody in the state,” Kurtz said. “What I was very pleased with was she didn’t give her second chances.”
Marisa Horan was also a key contributor, knocking down three 3s on the way to scoring 13 points.
Wheeling Central made 10-of-18 3s and 19-of-21 free throws.
“They made ten 3s tonight and it’s hard to beat a team that makes ten 3s when you only make one,” Tucker coach Dave Helmick said.
Tucker, meanwhile, was just 1-of-7 from 3-point range and failed to have a player score in double figures.
Aliyah Plum led the Mountain Lions with seven points, while Kuhn, Riley Evans, McKinley Murphy and London Hood each scored six in defeat.
“It seemed like everytime we got a steal or a positive thing, we couldn’t get a bucket,” Helmick said.
Kuhn had a team-high seven rebounds.