CHARLESTON — Nitro feasted from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
That helped set the table for a Class AAA semifinal matchup for the Wildcats with No. 2 seed North Marion on Friday at 11:15 a.m. in the WVSSAC Girls High School Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center. North Marion dispatched Hampshire, 80-47, in a Wednesday afternoon quarterfinal.
No. 3 Nitro (16-1) buried five 3-point goals in a 4:30 span in the first period Wednesday to lead 17-4 after one period en route to a dominating 63-28 victory over No. 6 Midland Trail (8-2) in an opening-round matchup. The Wildcat lead had ballooned to 36-9 at the halftime break and 54-14 through three quarters.
Nitro's leading scorer, Baylee Goins, converted a trio of 3-pointers in the opening quarter, and teammate Taylor Maddox supplied the other two long balls in that span. In the morning contest, Midland Trail pressured Goins with a diamond-and-one defense, but on at least two occasions in the initial quarter a Goins teammate set a pick on the Midland Trail defender and Goins simply veered to the open spot for an uncontested 3-point attempt.
Midland Trail head coach John Mark Kincaid said his defense did falter at times. "We just lost her (on the screens)," he said of Goins. "You try to take something away, and you give something up. We didn't double-team her."
That, however, wasn't the Patriots' primary downfall, Kincaid felt.
"I thought we had a good plan," he said. "We watched the video; I really thought we could compete with them and I still do." Mentioning his team's 3-for-20 effort from the field in the first half, Kincaid said, "We couldn't buy a shot, and had a bunch of turnovers. I think that defense would have worked if we had made some shots."
The lack of court time this season due to Covid-19 proved to be a hindrance, also. "We only played six regular season games, and the things that we struggled on were the things that we probably would have gotten better on," said Kincaid. "We just didn't get enough games under our belts. We had three new starters coming in. Just inexperience."
Falling in an early hole only exacerbated that scenario Wednesday, Kincaid said. "Chasing a real good team" is very difficult, he admitted. "Nitro is a talented team, and we needed to bring our 'A' game, and we didn't bring it today."
"I'm super proud of these girls," he said of his squad. "They didn't quit."
Referring to the players with him at the postgame press conference — seniors Emily Dickerson and Jolee Stephenson and junior Meghan Gill — Kincaid said, "These girls have a lot of heart; they battled."
Gill led the Patriots with 14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Dickerson, whom Kincaid said hurt her elbow in the game's early going, finished with seven points. Stephenson grabbed 11 rebounds.
Midland Trail committed 24 turnovers during the contest, to Nitro's 11 miscues.
"I thought our defensive pressure really stood out today," said Nitro head coach Pat Jones, who also praised his players for their work on the glass.
Nitro outrebounded Midland Trail, 50-38, and the Wildcats had a 16-7 edge in second-chance points and a 20-0 differential in points in the paint.
The Patriots shot just 20.4 percent (10-for-49) from the field for the contest. Nitro shot 34.3 percent (24-for-70).
Goins closed out the game with a solid 15-point, 11-assist, seven-rebound, five-steal effort for the Wildcats. Maddox and Danielle Ward scored 10 each, and Patricia Ward cleared eight rebounds.
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Midland Trail (8-2)
Mia Nuckols 2-7 1-1 5, Meghan Gill 5-18 3-4 14, Makenzie Kessler 0-1 0-0 0, Jolee Stephenson 0-2 2-4 2, Emily Dickerson 3-19 0-0 7, Alexis Dozier 0-0 0-0 0, Brylee Stephenson 0-0 0-0 0, Trinity Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Rosie Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Emma Brumfield 0-0 0-0 0, Catherine Maxwell 0-2 0-0 0, Maddy Harrell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 10-49 6-9 28
Brooklyn Bowen 2-9 2-5 7, Taylor Maddox 3-14 2-2 10, Baylee Goins 5-12 1-3 15, Emily Lancaster 4-11 1-2 9, Patricia Ward 4-6 0-0 8, Danielle Ward 5-6 0-0 10, Jadaia Perry 0-7 0-0 0, Victoria Scarberry 1-2 0-0 2, Lena Elkins 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 24-70 8-14 63
MT: 4 5 5 14 — 28
N: 17 19 18 9 — 63
3-point goals — MT: 2-16 (Gill 1-6, Dickerson 1-7, Nuckols 0-2, Kessler 0-1). N: 7-20 (Bowen 1-5, Maddox 2-9, Goins 4-6). Fouled out — None.