CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With its backs against the wall in Thurday’s Class AAA quarterfinal against No. 4 Cabell Midland, fifth-seeded University responded in the exact fashion the Hawks aspired to.
Trailing by three points to start the fourth quarter, University outscored the Knights 23-7 in the final period to advance with a 56-43 victory at Charleston Coliseum.
“Our girls did a great job down the stretch of being the more seasoned team,” UHS coach David Price said.
Defense was a big reason University (19-5) was able to rally by CMHS as the Hawks held the Knights to 1-of-8 shooting over the final quarter.
Trailing 43-42 at the midway point of the fourth, the Hawks went on top for good with a bucket from Mallory Napolillo. Abbie Coen scored inside with 3:19 left to up the Hawks’ lead to 46-43, before Ashten Boggs reeled off eight straight points over 2:15 to put the game out of reach.
“There were a few missed opportunities, but that’s basketball and it happens,” Knights’ coach Matt Adkins said.
With UHS having won two games at last year’s state tournament, which the Knights did not qualify for, Price felt his team was more comfortable late.
“When you’re in the trenches, that’s when you really learn about yourselves and it makes you ready to play games like this,” Price said.
Cabell Midland (18-7) carried a 19-18 lead into halftime and it grew to as much as seven with 4:58 to play in the third. The Knights’ advantage was still at six after KK Potter scored to make it 36-30, but Lauren Dean ended the period with three free throws to cut the Hawks’ deficit in half.
Boggs led all players with 24 points and 15 rebounds, including 16 points in the second half.
“The first half, they knew where I was the whole time,” Boggs said. “At halftime, we got together and said this could be our last half and we all have to give it 100 percent. I don’t really know what changed, but my teammates found me and it worked out well.”
Napolillo added 11 points and Coen scored 10 for the Hawks, who shot nearly 48 percent (20-of-42) from the field.
Jazmyn Wheeler led Cabell Midland with 11 points, while Potter and Jayla Allie scored 10 apiece in defeat.
The Knights were held without a fastbreak point and made only 13-of-48 shots for the game.
“Usually we try to predicate everything on our fastbreak,” Adkins said. “They got back well and we weren’t able to get out much, and we didn’t have many of the deflections we usually get to create fastbreaks.”