Gallery by Heather Belcher
Hinton – Arguably the biggest motivator in sports is having your pride wounded.
Three weeks back, Class AA No. 1 Wyoming East handed No. 2 Summers County a lopsided loss in New Richmond.
Friday night on Coach Wayne Ryan Court it was a different story.
The Warriors still picked up the win between the two top ranked teams, but the Bobcats made a statement in the 43-38 thriller.
“It was very encouraging tonight. Honestly, this is probably the best game that we have played,” first year Summers County head coach Rick Blevins said. “We were motivated, obviously. We didn’t want to lose by 30 (points) again. We have a pretty resilient group of kids. They play hard and they try hard. It was a great game to watch.”
A score in the lane and a pair of assists from Avery Lilly jump-started the Bobcats who led 11-6 after the first quarter.
Baskets by Alivia Monroe and Maddie Clark cut the lead to one before Cheyenne Smith answered with a bucket for a 15-12 lead.
Clark then split a pair of free throw chances to give the visitors their first lead following a 3-pointer from Kyndal Lusk.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, on the next Summers possession, Clark was whistled for her third foul and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the half.
East seemed to weather the storm without its floor general when Cadee Blackburn hit a pair of buckets and closed the half with a 3-point buzzer-beater for a 23-19 advantage.
Although the Bobcats trailed at the half, a tactical change by Blevins had helped his team weather the vaunted Wyoming East pressure.
“It was a really good move putting (Grace) Harvey at the top,” Wyoming East head coach Ryan Davidson said. “We went with more of a guard oriented group and it helped for a while. Then our foul trouble got us to a point where we were afraid to guard. Those were fouls, and it was our fault, but it put us in a spot where were we playing defensive defense.”
East came roaring out of the locker room, holding Summers County scoreless for nearly five minutes to build a 12-point lead.
Blackburn opened the second half with a triple before Clark hit a scoop layup in traffic which turned into a conventional 3-point play.
A steal and layup from Clark appeared to be the momentum that the Warriors needed to run off and hide.
That was not the case in round two for the Region 3 rivals.
“I thought early in the second half we made that run and had a chance to maybe apply that knockout blow, but a couple fouls, a couple turnovers and missed layups hurt us,” Davidson said.
Summers ran off six straight to stop the bleeding, but a baseline floater from Blackburn in the waning seconds gave East a 33-25 lead with eight minutes to play.
The two teams traded baskets to open the final quarter ahead of a missed breakaway layup by the Warriors which seemed to turn the tide in favor of the home team.
Harvey sparked the comeback with a score at the 5:10 mark and then hustled behind the defense on the next possession for a layup that she too converted into a 3-point play.
A steal and a layup from Lilly cut the lead to one point which moved back to two after Abi Baker made one of two free throw attempts for East.
With the game moving at a frantic pace, Smith tied the game with another stickback for Summers County.
With just under three minutes to play, it was anybody’s game.
“At the end of the game we missed a wide open layup. We don’t do that. They crashed the boards, we didn’t and we turned it over. I was really disappointed in the turnovers,” Davidson said. “(Rebounding) is what they do. We out-rebounded them at home and they flipped it on us here. Live ball turnovers hurt us and the 50-50 balls they beat us to them. That has to get fixed.”
A stickback from Baker with 2:28 to play gave the lead back to East for good, but the Bobcats had chances down the stretch.
A pair of turnovers, a missed open 3-ball from the corner and key offensive rebound snagged by the Warriors held the upset-minded ‘Cats at bay.
“The kids played really hard. There were a couple of bad moments late, but there was all kinds of stuff that happened during the game,” Blevins said. “I am proud of our kids. They got better and they were not afraid. (Wyoming East) is a talented team and there players are great, but their depth really makes a difference. It was a fun game to be involved with.”
Davidson chose to see the positive in the win, but he also could see a night like Friday on the horizon for his team.
“You have to learn how to win close games and I would rather do it now than in Charleston. On that side of it, that was a good thing,” Davidson said. “I’m just frustrated with our lack of intensity and you could see it coming this week in practice. We weren’t real focused no matter how much you tell them this is a hard place to play and they are a good basketball team. I think they have our attention now.”
WE: 6 17 10 10 – 43
SC: 11 8 6 13 – 38
Maddie Clark 10, Cadee Blackburn 17, Abi Baker 9, Gabby Cameron 2, Alivia Monroe 2, Kyndal Lusk 3.
Grace Harvey 14, Cheyenne Smith 10, Avery Lilly 8, Abby Persinger 4, Jaelyn Boone 2.