HAMBLETON, W.Va. — With its backs against the wall, Tucker County’s girls basketball program responded to prolong one of the state’s more remarkable streaks.
Having been outscored 10-3 by Doddridge County to start the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s Class A Region II co-final, the Mountain Lions saw their seven-point lead turn into a 48-all tie.
But Tucker County answered with a 6-0 run nearing the midway point of the fourth, and it made all the difference in a 64-58 victory that sends the Mountain Lions to the state tournament for a 16th straight year.
“We’re young and start two sophomores and a freshman, but we’re growing up right on the floor,” Tucker head coach Dave Helmick said. “That’s a huge win for us.”
The critical run by Tucker County (18-7) started with a stickback from Nevaeh Nichols, before Terra Kuhn scored inside to double the Mountain Lions’ lead. After London Hood drove to the basket for a bucket, the Tucker lead was up to six nearing the 3-minute mark.
Doddridge County (15-11) was faced with a 56-49 deficit moments later, but crept back to within one possession following a Jonna Ferrell three-pointer and two free throws from Abby McDonough with 1:38 remaining.
Hood then sank two free throws with 1:32 left, and the sophomore guard got free for a layup with 1:16 left to push the lead back to six. The Bulldogs got no closer than four the rest of the way.
“When (Hood) picked up her fourth foul, I had to take her off the floor and that makes us a whole different team,” Helmick said. “They got back in it and then I had to get her back in. She does so much for us. She controls the game and gets us in our offense and she can score.
“We fought some foul trouble and still got a win, so I can’t ask for anything else.”
The Mountain Lions controlled play for the majority of the first half and held a 27-16 advantage after Kuhn split two free throws.
But the Bulldogs found their rhythm on the perimeter over the final few minutes of the first half, as Ferrell made two threes and McDonough connected on a triple during a 13-4 spurt that sent Doddridge into the half facing a 31-29 deficit.
“Just had to get them to relax and shoot their shot,” Bulldogs’ head coach Lisa Cheeseman said. “I’m really proud of the girls and their effort. A couple times, we got beat long and they capitalized on that. We talked about it and that wasn’t the plan, but they got a few easy buckets out of it.”
The Bulldogs hung tough throughout the third quarter and trailed just 41-38 following McDonough’s tough finish near the rim, but Hood and Gracie Rapp scored back-to-back buckets to send the Mountain Lions into the fourth with the seven-point edge.
“Speed wise and size wise, we were about the same, so it made for a good matchup,” Cheeseman said.
Hood led all players with 24 points, while Kuhn added 18 in the victory. Kadie Colebank contributed 12 points in the win.
McDonough scored a team-high 19 in the loss, while Ferrell and Rylee Spurlock added 12 apiece.
Tucker County is the No. 7 seed in the state tournament and will face Parkersburg Catholic in a quarterfinal next Thursday.