HICO — Often-sloppy play eventually led to the downfall of the No. 2-seeded Midland Trail girls in a 44-36 setback to No. 3 Charleston Catholic in a Class A Region 3, Section 1 basketball semifinal on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Some 26 miscues on the night were a thorn in the side of the Patriots, whose three straight turnovers ignited a 7-0 Catholic spurt at the outset of the third period which allowed the Irish to erase a 20-17 halftime deficit. However, Irish junior Sydney Bolles also came up big with four long-range 3-point goals in the final two periods (of five total on the night) as her team survived and advanced to play the Pocahontas County-Webster County survivor for the Section 1 championship.
The loss ended the Patriots' season at 14-7.
"I thought we started the game a little slower than what we wanted to; our intensity wasn't quite there the first couple minutes of the game," said Charleston Catholic head coach Wes Hevener. "But, I felt we did a really job of settling into our game plan.
"We just told everybody, everybody's got to step up, everybody's got to pick up a little bit of slack for everybody. We've been pretty united throughout the year."
Bolles wound up with 19 points to pace the attack for the Irish (14-9). Hannah Rahin chipped in eight.
"Sydney's been a real good outside shot for us," Hevener said.
Emily Dickerson tallied a game-high 20 points for the Patriots, including 15 in the first half. Teammate Taylor Harrell supplied eight points on the night. Dickerson was particularly effective in the second quarter, scoring 11 points on the strength of converting three strong drives into the lane. However, Catholic clamped down on her more in the second half, and the Patriots didn't get much else going offensively.
"Those Charleston Catholic girls always play hard, very fundamental, and play really good defense," said Midland Trail head coach John Mark Kincaid. "We just had so many unforced turnovers.
"We've been our own worst enemy all year. We just never could (in the second half of the year) improve like we needed to."
Also, he said he would have liked to see more attention paid to the interior offensive game.
"All we had to do was throw the ball inside," Kincaid said. "We just wouldn't throw the ball inside, where we had a big advantage. All we had to do was pound it inside."
After Bolles and Dickerson traded 3-pointers to leave the score at 34-all with 3:56 left in the final period, the Irish proceeded on a 9-0 run to take control. Elizabeth Rushworth initiated the spurt with two key foul shots off an offensive rebound, then Bolles buried another three to push the margin to five, 39-34. Post player Chloe Clark then took a feed from Annie Cimino for a two-point goal and a 41-34 spread. Finally, Cimino and Clark contributed single free throws to leave the score at 43-34 with 53.3 seconds left.
Midland Trail hadn't played since Feb. 13, a 50-47 comeback win over Oak Hill which upped a regular-season ending winning streak to three games. The Patriots beat the Irish, 50-44, on Jan. 6 in the two teams' only 2019-20 regular season meeting.
"The kids gave me great effort," said Kincaid. "We played hard."
Charleston Catholic later lost to No. 1 Pocahontas County, 41-33, in the Section 1 championship game. The Irish will play at Summers County on Thursday, March 5 for a berth in the state tournament.
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Charleston Catholic (14-9)
Claire Mullen 2 1-3 5, Annie Cimino 2 1-2 5, Elizabeth Rushworth 1 2-2 4, Sydney Bolles 5 4-7 19, Hannah Rahin 3 2-8 8, Chloe Clark 1 1-4 3. Totals: 14 11-26 44.
Midland Trail (14-7)
Malerie Hendrick 0 0-0 0, Taylor Harrell 3 2-4 8, Kyleigh Jackson 2 1-4 6, Emily Dickerson 9 0-0 20, Meghan Gill 1 0-2 2, Jolee Stephenson 0 0-0 0, Gracie Ferrell 0 0-0 0, Taylor Perry 0 0-0 0, Mia Nuckols 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 3-10 36
CC: 9 8 13 14 — 44
MT: 8 12 9 7 — 36
Three-point goals: CC: 5 (Bolles 5); MT: 3 (Jackson, Dickerson 2). Fouled out: Jackson (MT), Gill (MT)