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Philip Barbour solves East Fairmont in Class AAA quarterfinal, moves on with 62-45 victory

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Once in the regular season and again in a sectional title game only two weeks ago, Philip Barbour failed to solve East Fairmont.

However, the third time was the charm for the Colts, and unfortunately for the Bees, that was the most meaningful one.

Behind a balanced offensive attack predicated on being aggressive, Philip Barbour converted 27-of-40 free throws and stymied East Fairmont to claim Thursday’s Class AAA quarterfinal at the Charleston Coliseum, 62-45.

“It’s all these girls. They play so hard and they don’t want to lose,” Colts’ head coach Rick Mouser said. “We throw stuff at them, change it up and they just run with it and keep pushing.”

No. 6 PB (15-10) never trailed in the contest after securing its spot in the state tournament with a regional overtime victory at Robert C. Byrd — a game the Colts never led during regulation. The Colts advance to a semifinal Friday where the winner of No. 2 Wayne/No. 7 Sissonville awaits.

The Colts began to create separation by scoring seven unanswered points over 1:46 to turn a 6-6 tie into a seven-point lead.

With 1:15 remaining in the opening quarter, the No. 3 Bees (23-3) committed their seventh team foul, moving PB into the bonus for the remainder of the half.

The Colts capitalized by making 9-of-10 foul shots in the opening quarter, and guard Braylyn Sparks made all three of her attempts with less than 1 second in the frame to give the Colts an 18-12 advantage entering the second.

“We work on it every day. The other day I made them all shoot 100,” Mouser said. “You’re getting down to the games where foul shooting is going to matter and it did today.” 

One year after making its first state tournament appearance in program history and bowing out in the quarterfinal round to eventual state champion Logan, the Colts settled in early this time around.

“Experience plays a huge role in these types of games,” Sparks said.

The Bees got two free throws from Taran Myers and a Morgan Cochran jump shot to cut what had been an eight-point deficit to 22-18, but the Colts followed by seizing control of the contest.

Starting with Sparks’ jumper at the 5:05 mark, PBHS rattled off 10 consecutive points in a stretch that also featured Halfin’s jumper, layups from Mattie Marsh and Averi Carpenter and two free throws from Marsh for a 32-18 lead 1:33 before halftime.

Thanks to a Jayln Jenkins jumper, the Bees got to within 12 at the break.

“We did a lot of uncharacteristic things that we haven’t done all season long and it’s being in the moment here for the first time in 16 years,” East Fairmont head coach James Beckman said.

“It comes with time. We’ll build on this foundation to get back here next year.”

PBHS maintained its separation throughout the third quarter, never leading by less than 10 and upping the advantage to as much as 42-27 after Marsh and Halfin made layups over a 20-second stretch.

The Colts cashed in on 7-of-13 free throws during the third and took a 47-35 lead to the fourth.

“Starting well was real important,” Mouser said. “They’re a tough team. They put that pressure on you and if you’re behind, it seems to snowball.”

Cochran’s follow-up basket allowed EFHS to trail by 10 with 7:24 to play, but the Bees could get no closer as PB made 3-of-6 field-goal attempts and 9-of-14 free throws over the final 8 minutes to maintain a double-digit advantage the entire time.

Carpenter made a pair of foul shots with 25 seconds left for the final margin, which marked the Colts’ largest lead of the contest.

“We were chasing a lot and put them on the foul line entirely too much,” Beckman said. 

Marsh led all players with 15 points and added 10 rebounds with five steals. Halfin also had a double-double of 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds to key the Colts’ 44-36 advantage on the boards.

Halfin’s offensive production was a welcomed sight for Mouser.

“The points with her are a bonus,” Mouser said. “I told her the other day she could be first team all state scoring 10 or 12 points, because she gets 13 or 15 rebounds every day.”

Sparks and Carpenter scored 11 apiece and Arrington Sparks added 10 points for a fifth double-figure scorer.

Kenly Rogers led the Bees with 11 points and Cochran added eight. Brooklyn Shupe was a spark off the bench with seven points and a team-high nine rebounds.

The Bees made only 16-of-56 shots and finished 12 for 19 on free throws.

“They had something we didn’t have from the experience last year and I felt at times it got the best of us, especially early in the game,” Beckman said. “We were playing catchup the entire time. We had a remarkable season with 23 wins. A lot of records set — 17 wins in a row, most points scored in history. Those are things we want to look back on. We set the bar high for next year, which is what we want to do. This group of girls will be hungry this offseason.”

(Philip Barbour postgame press conference)

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