The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor

Sports Editor

A pair of Harrison County teams played their way into the girls state basketball tournament this past week with impressive wins.  Lincoln and Bridgeport claimed victories to advance to the top tier of play.

The Cougars pounded Clay County 62-38 last Wednesday to punch their ticket to the big dance.  It was the Lady Cougars 20th win of the season and fifth consecutive win and ninth out of their last ten contests.  During this current streak, Lincoln has outscored their opponents by a 335-185 count, with an average winning margin of 30 points per game.   In their three sectional wins, the numbers are even more staggering.  In the lock-ups with Elkins, Bridgeport, and Clay County, the margin of victory ballooned to 38 points per triumph.

In Shinnston versus the Lady Panthers, the hosts jumped out to a quick start, leading 22-9 after one period of play. They increased their lead to 34-17 at the half.  The teams played to a tie in scoring in the third frame before the Lady Cougars put the game out of reach with a 17-10 advantage in the fourth quarter.  Offensive balance was on display as four Lincoln players (Hope Bray (15) Halie Hardman (13), Madison Jeffries (12) and Gracey Lamm (11) scored in double figures, while Jade DeBerry chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds.

The Lady Cougars also held a 39-30 rebounding advantage over Clay County.  Lincoln was aggressive en route to shooting 20 foul shots, while making good on 16 of them.

Let’s see if the third time is a charm for Head Coach Rob Hawkins and his group, as this marks their third consecutive state tournament appearance.  The Lady Cougars drew the No.5 seed and will match up today at the Civic Center.  The clash with the No.5 Lady Generals is set to tip at 9:00 pm.

All Class AA participants will play today:  No.1 Bluefield plays No.8 River View at 5:30 pm;  No.2 Fairmont Senior and No.7 Bridgeport tip at 1:00 pm;   and No.3 North Marion will face No.6  Poca in the first game of the day at 9:30  am.

Bridgeport lost the sectional final to Lincoln, but rebounded to take an impressive road win over Lewis County 46-43 last Wednesday.

The Indians trailed by one point at the half and the deficit doubled by the end of the third quarter.  However, in high school hoops, it’s not how you start…it’s that by the end of the evening you score more points than the other team and that’s exactly what the Tribe did. An 18-13 scoring advantage in the fourth and final segment sealed the deal for the Indians.  Quinn Stalnaker flirted with a double double, scoring a game high 15 points, as well as a game best nine rebounds.  Emily Riggs was the only other Bridgeport player to find double digits, scoring 10 in the win.  Gianina Renzelli chipped in with seven points and three assists.

On the boys side, Notre Dame outlasted Gilmer County to earn their sectional title with a 61-54 victory.  The Fighting Irish remained undefeated in second season play and will host Pendelton County tonight for a chance to advance to the boys state tournament.

Notre Dame jumped out to a 17-10 lead after one segment.  The Titans utilized a strong second quarter to cut their deficit to four heading into the break.  The Fighting Irish made some halftime adjustments and increased their lead to double figures (13) going into a final stanza, where they added insurance en route to collecting the win.

Jarrod West garnered a game high 24 points for the Fighting Irish.  Joining West in double digits scoring was Gabe Zummo with 14 and Noah Bohanna with 10.  Bohanno also led the victory with seven rebounds in the lock-up.

Good luck to every team from Harrison County that is still in the hunt for a state tournament championship.

That will do it for now.  Until next week … take care and God Bless!