Pryor fires MHS into state final

She rallies Mohigans in the last 4 minutes


CHARLESTON — When it came down to it, Morgantown’s 72-65 victory against Parkersburg South in the state Class AAA girls’ basketball semifinals, at the Charleston Civic Center, came down to one thing: Keri Pryor would not let her team lose.
    By her own admission, Pryor went crazy in the final four minutes of the game, scoring nine points after the Patriots (17-9) had taken a 58-57 lead with 3:58 to play.
    “I wasn’t, like, crazy crazy,” said Pryor, who scored 28 points and added six assists. “I started hearing voices in my head. It was time to pick it up.”
    Pryor gave the top-seeded Mohigans (24-2) the lead back, 59-58, with a basket down low. On their next possession, the Mohigans went to a stall game, but Pryor eventually found herself with the ball down low again. When she turned to the basket, she discovered she was being tripled-teamed. She took the shot anyway, and it fell through, and she completed the 3-point play after being fouled.
    “I don’t know what I was thinking there,” Pryor said with a smile. “I closed my eyes and prayed that it went in. I didn’t realize there were three people around me.”
    The basket and free throw gave MHS a 62-58 advantage with 2:46 left in the game.
    “We had trouble matching up with her tonight,” Parkersburg South coach Scott Stephens said. “She shoots well from the perimeter, but she also is strong enough and quick enough to take it to the basket and she’s physically strong enough to play in the post. She was the difference in the game.”
    While Pryor was dominant in the final minutes, she said it didn’t come without being a little case of nerves.
    “I was scared, to tell you the truth,” Pryor said. “They just kept coming at us and I got a little worried. I just felt like something had to happen for us. Then we pulled it together and I think we all went a little crazy.”
    South did keep coming. Ashley Curry hit a 3-pointer with 2:31 left to cut the Mohigans’ lead to 62-61, but then Brittney Whiting hit a 3-pointer for MHS and South couldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the game.
    Pryor’s performance would have been the talk of the semifinals if not for that of Parkersburg South’s Jill Stephens. The 6-foot-3 center also scored 28 points and added 11 rebounds before fouling out, with nine seconds remaining.
    Stephens will continue her career at Cincinnati, and the Mohigans certainly focused on her throughout the game, constantly changing defenses to keep the Patriots guessing. While Stephens still had a monster game, the Patriots turned the ball over 20 times and MHS recorded 11 steals.
    “It seemed like their rotations were different every time down the floor,” Stephens said. “It made it tough on us. Sometimes I thought we handled it well. Morgantown’s defense is very fast and very strong. We’re not used to that kind of pressure.”
    The Mohigans, who haven’t won a state title since 1993, advanced to the championship game for the second time in three years and will play South Charleston at 7:15 p.m. today.
    Whiting finished with 18 points and Joanna Joseph added 10 points. Parkersburg South also got 17 points from Michelle Molinari.
Class AAA girls’ state tournament
At Charleston Civic Center Quarterfinals Wednesday Parkersburg South 72, Hedgesville 58 Morgantown 64, Elkins 38 Thurday South Charleston 53, Greenbrier East 49 Huntington 73, Fairmont Senior 45 Semifinals Friday Morgantown 72, Parkersburg South 65 South Charleston 60, Huntington 51 Championship Today Semifinal winners, 7:15 p.m.

Jason DeProspero/The Dominion Post Morgantown High’s Keri Pryor lays in a last-second basket for the final two of her 28 points.

MORGANTOWN (24-2) Joseph 3-7 1-2 10, Lovett 2-7 2-4 6, Whiting 7-14 1-2 18, Peck 1-3 0-0 2, Pryor 9-14 10-13 28, Napolillo 0-2 6-8 6, Hutchens 0-0 0-0 0, Fullard 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 23-48 20-29 72. PARKERSBURG SOUTH (17-9) Molinari 6-13 4-4 17, Curry 2-5 0-1 6, Crislip 4-6 0-0 10, Wolfe 2-7 0-0 4, Stephens 10-13 8-11 28, Harbour 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 12-16 65. Morgantown 16 20 16 20—72 Parkersburg South 14 20 17 14—65 3-point goals—Morgantown 6-14 (Joseph 3-4, Whiting 3-8, Lovett 0-1, Pryor 0-1), Parkersburg South 5-13 (Curry 2-3, Crislip 2-3, Molinari 1-1, Wolfe 0-3, Harbour 0-3). Fouled out—Stephens. Rebounds—Morgantown 19 (Lovett 5), Parkersburg South 35 (Stephens 11). Assists—Morgantown 14 (Pryor 6), Parkersburg South 18 (Crislip, Harbour 4).