Sutherlin sparks Robert C. Byrd’s strong second half, helps Eagles top Lincoln, 53-46

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — After trailing for the entirety of the first half, Robert C. Byrd was in need of a lift Tuesday during its Class AAA Region II, Section 2 semifinal against Lincoln.

The Eagles found one in sophomore guard Jada Sutherlin.

Sutherlin scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half, including 10 during a third quarter that allowed the Eagles to overcome an eight-point deficit in a 53-46 victory against the Cougars.

“It was a total team effort. Defensively, we changed up, and as bad as we started, we showed some resiliency,” Eagles’ head coach Robert Shields said. “The schedule we’ve played panned out. They’ve come back before and they didn’t hang their heads. They were very focused. Everybody stepped up at certain points tonight.” 

With the win, the Eagles advance to play at Elkins in Thursday’s sectional title game.

Robert C. Byrd (15-8) changed the complexion of the contest with a three-quarter court trapping defense from the outset of the second half. Lincoln (12-11) had all four of the game’s turnovers in the third quarter, which the Eagles began with 11 unanswered points for the first advantage of the night.

That stretch featured two Carleigh Curotz free throws, Kyla Sutherlin’s layup off a steal, a short jumper from Martina Howe and five straight points from Jada Sutherlin on a three-pointer and follow-up bucket, the latter of which left RCB in front 29-26.

“It really is them being so into guarding Martina, because that creates for me,” Jada Sutherlin said.

Not until a Brooklyn Davisson three with 3:25 left in the third quarter did the Cougars score in the second half, at which point the game was tied at 29.

“Athough we preached we have to get the ball inside that defense and attack to the paint, we didn’t,” LHS head coach Rob Hawkins said. “We were too passive and by the time we started attacking, they had the lead and we couldn’t catch them. We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be in the second half. The third quarter, we were passive and we had some unforced turnovers against the press.” 

Sutherlin then scored five points during a 7-0 spurt to give RCB its largest lead at 36-29, though the Cougars closed the third with six straight points and pulled to within a point ahead of the fourth quarter when Alexis Williams hit a triple off the wing.

But after Lincoln got back to within one, RCB opened the fourth with seven consecutive points, five of which Jada Sutherlin scored, including a trey for an eight-point cushion with 4:05 remaining.

“She stepped up really well,” Shields said of Sutherlin. “Martina became the facilitator and she and Kyla took care of the basketball and got it around.”

Ashlyn Riley’s driving layup with 3:50 left brought the visitors to within six and marked Lincoln’s first points of the fourth, and when Riley scored again from close range with 1:25 to play, the Cougars cut their deficit to 46-41.

But Lincoln could get no closer down the stretch as the Eagles made 8-of-12 free throws over the final 1:56 to maintain their distance, including two from Curotz that left the Eagles with a 50-41 advantage before the Cougars’ Sadie Adams counted with a triple.

RCB had only two second-half turnovers after 11 through the first two quarters. 

In addition to Sutherlin’s 17 points, Curotz and Howe scored 12 each and Holly Hunsaker added nine in the win. Curotz also had a game-best six rebounds to key the Eagles’ 30-19 advantage on boards.

“Sutherlin hitting those threes was probably the turning point in the game,” Hawkins said. “We’re focused on Howe and focused on Curotz and if you told me we’d hold those two to 24, I’d have thought we won the game. But give her credit. She knocked down some huge shots.”

After shooting 7 for 21 in the first half, RCB made 10-of-19 shots over the final two quarters.

Riley capped a stellar high school career with a game-high 21 points, giving her 1,600 points to go with 500 rebounds for her career.

“Ashlyn’s had one of the best careers of any basketball player at Lincoln High School,” Hawkins said.

Davisson scored 11 and Adams contributed seven in defeat.

The Cougars finished with 15 field goals and 15 turnovers, nine of which came after halftime.

“The three-quarter court press really helped us,” Shields said. “We forced some turnovers that gave us some more possessions.”

Robert C. Byrd played with at least somewhat heavy hearts after learning of a tragedy in Harrison County earlier in the day. Ryan Lantz, a freshman boys basketball coach at RCB as well as a teacher and assistant football coach at Liberty Harrison, died Tuesday morning after being hit by a car in the Liberty parking lot.

“The freshman team practiced right behind us yesterday. We all know Ryan real well,” Shields said. “It’s a shame. It’s a tragedy. They saw him coming to practice after us a lot and the girls really took it to heart.”





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