By Steve Keenan
CHARLESTON — Lack of success in a couple of the game’s basic areas derailed the Fayetteville Pirates Thursday.
Facing No. 2 seed St. Marys in the quarterfinal round of the West Virginia state basketball tournament at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum, the No. 7 Fayetteville girls kept the game relatively close for three quarters before watching the Blue Devils pull away down the stretch for a 71-40 triumph.
The underdog Pirates (16-8) didn’t help their own cause on the afternoon, going 6-of-24 from the foul line, shooting 16-of-46 from the field, and committing 26 turnovers that led to 23 Blue Devil points.
“Basketball’s not complicated,” said Fayetteville coach John Mark Kincaid. “We missed foul shots, and they made foul shots (St. Marys was 21-of-29 from the stripe).
“I knew we could compete with them. They’re very talented. You don’t go 23-1 without creating a lot of turnovers.”
Guard Maddie Pritt echoed her coach’s sentiments, saying the Pirates could have “made it closer” if they’d had better marksmanship at the charity stripe.
Pritt said there is no reason to be sad, though. “I’m really proud of my team. I’m totally honored we made it, and I’m happy.”
Fellow guard Avina Sedlock termed the outcome “a little disappointing.” “Free throws played a big part, and the length of the floor got us tired,” she said. “But I think we played our hearts out and gave it our all.”
Getting two buckets from Pritt, and another from freshman Kendall Malay, Fayetteville led three times in the opening quarter and trailed just 10-9 after the first 8 minutes on a layup by St. Marys’ Ashley Hall.
The Pirates were within striking distance at half, 25-16, and were in arrears 44-30 at the outset of the final quarter.
After a cold shooting first half, St. Marys (23-1) lit up the scoreboard in the final 16 minutes, connecting on 45 percent of its attempts and outscoring Fayetteville 46-24 in the final two stanzas.
Sedlock scored on a putback to pull Fayetteville to within 11 points, 45-34, at the 5:40 mark of the final quarter. St. Marys responded, however, by going on a 5-0 spurt — featuring three free throws from Hall and two freebies from Kendra Walker — to move into a commanding 50-34 cushion at the 5:09 mark.
Hall and Walker produced double-doubles to lead St. Marys, which will play Tucker County today in the semifinals. Hall had a game-high 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Walker finished with 17 points and 13 boards. Mikaela Britton added 13 points.
Fayetteville admittedly focused its defense on containing the 6-foot-4 Walker inside.
“We held her in check until garbage time,” Kincaid said. “No. 10 (Hall) is a good ball player. She earned everything she got.”
Fayetteville was led by Pritt’s 12 points and seven boards. Malay contributed 10 points and four blocked shots, and Sedlock chipped in eight points and six rebounds.
“I’m proud of my kids; they played hard,” said Kincaid. “The game was a little closer than the score indicated.
“Lots of times we don’t seem to get the respect we deserve, so I told them to go earn it, and .. I think we earned some respect.”
“I’m disappointed we didn’t come out hungrier than we did,” said St. Marys coach Howard Meeks. “That was a great team that came at us.
“The whole quality of Class A basketball keeps growing. There were some nice players on both sides.”
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