CHARLESTON, W.Va. — With Tug Valley leading Cameron 48-37 approaching the 5-minute mark of Saturday’s Class A final, Panthers’ junior guard Kayla Basiden fired a three-pointer off the right wing.
Basiden’s triple banked off the square and in, giving the Panthers a 14-point lead and Baisden her second made three off the glass.
It was that kind of state tournament for both Baisden and Tug Valley. The standout guard finished with 25 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Panthers to their first state championship with a 63-45 victory over the Dragons at the Charleston Coliseum.
“She banks one in about every game,” said Tug Valley coach Clyde Farley after helping the Panthers garner the title on his birthday. “We felt like this was our day. We came here not to play in a state tournament, but to win a state tournament.”
Cameron (18-2) got a pair of threes in the first quarter from Kenzie Clutter to hold a 12-11 lead, but Tug Valley (15-2) took control by outscoring the Dragons 20-6 in the second quarter.
“We settled down,” Farley said. “we were a little tight in the first quarter. We started playing our brand of basketball. As we play our brand of basketball, we get these runs.”
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The Dragons had surrendered 24 and 28 points in their first two state tournament contests, but the Panthers surpassed that total in two quarters.
Baisden started the second-quarter scoring with a triple and teammate Audrey Evans followed with a three. Baisden then scored near the rim to help TV start the period on an 8-0 run.
While the Panthers scored 20 points in the period, their defense turned the game in their direction.
Half of the Dragons’ point total in the quarter came on a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot from freshman Ashlynn Van Tassell.
“We gave up some easy baskets underneath and our shots weren’t falling,” Cameron coach Holly Pettit said. “We had a couple fouls that set us back a little bit. When a team gets on a run like Tug Valley did, it’s tough to come back from.”
The Panthers held a 23-13 rebounding advantage in the opening half, though the Dragons were only beaten on the boards 44-41 for the game.
“We rebounded much better in the second half, but it was a little too late,” Pettit said.
Cameron hung tough for a good portion of the second half, but couldn’t overcome its sluggish second quarter. The Dragons got to within 10 on Emma Whipkey’s triple to start the second half, but they’d get no closer.
Makayla May helped TVHS maintain its double digit lead and scored eight of her 15 points in the third period, allowing the Panthers to lead 45-30 ahead of the fourth.
“It’s amazing. We knew this was going to be our year,” May said. “We had to wait it out and play it out, but this is our year.”
Early in the fourth, Reagan Gray scored twice from close range and Lili Neely added a three-pointer that allowed the Dragons to close the deficit to 11.
But Baisden’s second banked-in triple of the contest put TV up 14, and the Panthers outscored the Dragons 12-8 the rest of the way to win comfortably.
“You think you’re one step closer to taking a step to get back in it and when something like that happens, it makes it tough,” Pettit said.
May also had 11 rebounds to post a double-double, while Panthers’ guard Alyssa Newsome scored 15 points and made three threes.
“We’ve worked really hard for this and now that we actually made it and won, it means so much to us,” Newsome said.
Evans had seven boards, six assists and five steals and Autumn Hall led TV with 13 rebounds.
Van Tassell led Cameron with 15 points and 14 rebounds. Lili Neely, also celebrating a birthday, finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and three steals in her final high school game.
Basiden scored 75 points at the state tournament — 37 more than the next highest scorer in Class A.
“I came out and knew what I had to do,” Baisden said. “I had to win it for my seniors.”
Makayla May, Tug Valley
Lili Neely, Cameron
Josie Montgomery, Calhoun County
Kenzie Clutter, Cameron
Macy Helmick, Tucker County
Sydney Baird, Webster County
Ashlynn Van Tassell, Cameron
Kaylea Baisden, Tug Valley