Wyoming East became the first county girls team to win a Big Atlantic Classic title on Saturday evening at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center.
Trailing by 10 to start the fourth quarter, the Warriors climbed back to beat St. Albans, 66-60, in overtime.
Much of the contest was a shootout between East’s Jasmine Blankenship and the Red Dragaons’ Alli Johnson.
Both players finished the night with seven three-pointers.
Blankenship’s trey with :27 left in regulation bounced around the rim and fell in to tie the game at 52-52.
“I knew I had God behind me and I my teammates wanted me to shoot and the fans wanted me to shoot,” she said.”When I got open, I shot it and it went in.”
“Jazz has been solid for us all year,” said Warriors coach Angie Boninsegna. “With Gabby and Misa (Quesenberry) out, she’s not only been a scorer, but she’s had to play the point a lot too.”
St. Albans got two shots in the final seconds, including a layup at the buzzer, but could not convert.
WEHS took the lead for good on a pair of free throws by Megan Davis with 3:34 left in OT.
Haley Butcher scored on a follow shot, and the Lady Warriors didn’t attempt another field goal.
They went 12-12 at the line in the overtime.
“We practice foul shots all the time,” Blankenship said. “We don’t always make them, but lately we’ve been doing better.”
St. Albans had the upper hand most of the night.
The Red Dragons got threes from Johnson and Jaden McDaniels in the final minute of the first quarter to take a 14-8 edge.
They maintained the lead through the second period were up, 27-21, at the half.
East faced a 44-34 deficit entering the final quarter.
Emily Saunders hit an eight-footer from the lane to start a 9-0 Warrior run.
A steal led to a Katie Daniels lay up, and it was 44-38.
Blankenship and Saunders each went 2-2 at the line.
A Saunder foul shot at the 5:41 mark made it 44-43.
Blankenship tied it with a three and and then gave WEHS its first lead since the opening minute of the game when she hit another.
Johnson tied it with a baseline drive with 2:08 to go.
It looked like the Dragons might escape with the win when Johnson hit a trey with :59 left.
St. Albans got the ball back but turned it over to set up Blankenship’s big shot.
After the Dragons missed the potential game winner, the momentum seemed to flow back to East.
“That was a good play (at the end of regulation), and we were fortunate that they missed,” Boninsegna said.
“I told the girls to just hang in there (when we were behind),” she commented. “St. Albans is a very physical team
Blankenship had a game-high 31 points. Emily Saunders scored 16 of her 17 points in the second half and was 6-6 from the floor in the final two quarters. She also pulled down 11 rebounds.
Davis scored 10 and had four assists.
Johnson tallied 28 for the Dragons. Jaden McDaniels scored 16, and Haleigh Legg had 13.
“I think our defensive intensity in the second half turned the game around,” said East coach Angie Boninsegna.
East, ranked No. 2 in the coaches poll and No. 4 by the AP, has won 13 straight and improved to 14-4 overall.
The Lady Warriors visit Westside on Thursday.
Game notes: While the East and Westside boys have won multiple BAC titles, the Lady Warriors have not been in a final since losing to Huntington in 2005 …East and St. Albans scrimmaged at New Richmond in November when the Lady Warriors were at full strength.
John Conley can be reached at 304-732-6060 or on Twitter @PIHnews.