CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Prior to the state tournament shutdown in 2020, Marley Washenitz experienced her first and only season-ending loss at Fairmont Senior when the Polar Bears were eliminated by PikeView.
While there were ultimately no state champions in 2020, there was closure to the Polar Bears’ season — and it’s a feeling Washenitz wants no part of again.
She showed that and then some Friday in a Class AAA semifinal, finishing with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five steals to help the top-seeded Polar Bears pull away from No. 4 seed Logan for a 52-33 win at the Charleston Coliseum.
“Other teams’ seasons ended because of covid, but ours was in our control,” Washenitz said. “Knowing that, I was thinking there’s no way I can let this happen again. Putting the amount of work in that we have, there’s no reason we should lose.”
The victory sends unbeaten Fairmont Senior (17-0) into Saturday’s AAA title game against No. 3 Nitro.
“Very proud to get the victory,” Polar Bears’ coach Corey Hines said. “It was a defensive struggle. They’re a very scrappy, defensive-oriented team and we knew it would be a tough game.”
Logan (12-4) led for more than it trailed during the first half, holding the Polar Bears to four points besides Washenitz, who scored 15 through two quarters. The remainder of FSHS made 1-of-16 shots, but the Polar Bears managed to lead 19-18 as they held the Wildcats to eight points over the final 12 minutes of the opening half.
“We knew once we got to playing our style of basketball, we were going to be OK,” Hines said.
With the Polar Bears still up one early in the third quarter, the game came to a halt for several minutes when Logan’s Emma Elkins suffered an injury that caused her to bleed.
Following the stoppage, the Polar Bears ran off eight straight points and went up 29-20 on a Washenitz layup.
“Our focus went to emma. She’s OK,” Logan coach Kevin Gertz said. “She may have a scar at the prom next weekend, but she’ll be OK. They scored (eight) straight right after that and that was the ball game. It’s not anybody’s fault. She collided and went heard first into the floor. That broke a lot of momentum and that happens in sports.”
FSHS settled for a 32-25 lead through three quarters, and although Logan’s Peyton Ilderton hit a jump shot to start the fourth-quarter scoring, that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Washenitz countered with the next seven points and Meredith Maier scored six of her nine points over the final 6:21 to help the Polar Bears pull away.
“In the back of my head, I knew I didn’t want to go home and I didn’t want to let this team down,” Maier said.
Washenitz, a West Virginia commit, made 9-of-19 shots and 6-of-8 free throws.
Maier added a team-high 13 rebounds, while Bekah Jenkins had eight points and five boards. Fairmont Senior handled Logan on the glass, 44-27.
“We have five players that can do what they want when they play together and strive for success,” Washenitz said.
Ilderton led Logan with 12 points and 11 rebounds in her last high school game. The Wildcats committed 19 turnovers — a key factor in attempting only 38 shots in the loss. They were held to 21 points over the final three quarters.
“Corey had a hell of a game plan — there’s no doubt about that,” Gertz said. “They switched well. It’s tough when you try to penetrate and attack the basket and you have a girl three inches taller guarding you, and then they switch and now there’s one six inches taller that may be able to run faster.”