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Philip Barbour’s furious fourth-quarter rally leads to regional title defense

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Trailing by seven points with 4:30 to play, Philip Barbour’s hopes of defending their regional title and advancing to a second consecutive state tournament looked grim.

However, the Colts closed regulation on a 13-5 run and prevailed over Robert C. Byrd in overtime, 46-43 in the Class AAA Region II co-finals. PBHS (14-10) earned the No. 6 seed in the state quarterfinals and they will face Big 10 Conference rival East Fairmont next Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Philip Barbour trailed RCB 19-12 at halftime but they outscored the Flying Eagles 34-24 in the second half and overtime.

“As bad as we played offensively, we were in the game. We played good defense because they only had 19 at halftime. 19-12 is not a normal Philip Barbour-Byrd game at halftime. I told them to come out and play hard like they had and we’ll pick it up on offense. They really did that,” said Philip Barbour head coach Rick Mouser.

“More movement. They kind of stood around in the first half. They passed the ball out front and nobody really attacked the basket. We did a better job of that in the second half.”

The Colts did not allow a field goal in the final three minutes of regulation. Baskets by Mackenna Halfin and Averi Carpenter trimmed the PB deficit to two points with two minutes to play. A stickback from Mattilea Marsh with 40 seconds left sent the game to overtime tied at 40.

Halfin gave the Colts their first lead of the game on the opening possession of overtime, putting back a missed shot. RCB answered with two minutes to play when Martina Howe hit a 3-pointer to put Byrd back up, 43-42.

However, Braylyn Sparks was sent to the free throw line twice in the final minute. She went 4-fot-4 from the stripe to put the Colts ahead, 46-43.

“The exact person. [Sparks] is shooting about 75 percent on the year. I have all the confidence in the world,” Mouser said.

Sparks stole an inbounds pass with five seconds left and ran out the clock, securing the victory for Philip Barbour.

RCB (20-5) defeated the Colts in two regular season meetings.

“We definitely rebounded better in this game than we did the second game. Mackenna [Halfin] missed that game because of the state swim meet. And she rebounds, rebounds and rebounds. That helped. The first time we played them, it was the first game of the year and we weren’t playing very good. We started out 0-3. They have picked it up ever since.”

Sparks led all scorers with 17 points. Howe led RCB with 14 points and Avery Childers added a dozen.

“It means a lot. A lot of people think one time is a fluke. But when you can do it multiple times, It is for real. And these girls deserve it,” Mouser said.

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