PikeView did just about everything it could to hang relatively tough with Fairmont Senior in Friday’s Class AAA semifinal.
Ultimately, the Polar Bears’ proficiency from the free-throw line and a standout performance from guard Marley Washenitz were too much for the Panthers to overcome and led to No. 1 Fairmont Senior claiming a 58-39 win at Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center.
“I’m very happy to come away from this game injury free, because we’ve had a rough time the past few weeks, and also very happy to come away with the victory,” Fairmont Senior head coach Corey Hines said. “We persevered and played hard. A lot of fouls were called and we were able to adapt well and finish the game. PikeView played well and their coach should be happy with the way they competed.”
While the Polar Bears (25-1) never trailed thanks to their strong opening quarter, the Panthers played them tough the rest of the way, though an 18-7 deficit through 8 minutes proved to be insurmountable for PHS.
Washenitz scored her team’s first five points and eight in the opening quarter, during which the Polar Bears cashed in on all nine of their free-throw attempts.
PikeView (17-8) had nine of its 19 turnovers in the first frame.
“In a day and a half, we can’t simulate their speed and athleticism,” Panthers’ head coach Tracy Raban said. “We tried to simulate it as much as we could in the shootaround. It took us a little too long to get used to it.”
The Polar Bears got 3-pointers from guards Claira Hager and Emily Starn early in the second quarter to lead 24-10, and a Starn layup later in the quarter enabled Hines’ team to go on top 30-12.
The Panthers outscored FSHS 7-4 the remainder of the half, with Anyah Brown’s 3 allowing PikeView to pull to within 34-19 at halftime.
“Once they settled down and felt like we belonged, we executed and were able to be a part of the game,” Raban said.
PikeView got as close as 12 in the third quarter on Riley Meadows’ layup that made it 37-25, but Washenitz, the Mary Ostrowski Award winner this season, scored six points over the final 5:12 of the quarter to help the Polar Bears maintain their separation and take a 42-29 lead into the fourth.
“We recognized how they were calling the game,” Washenitz said. “We shot almost the same amount of free throws as we did shots from the floor, and we shot very well from the free-throw line. I was just getting downhill and adjusting to the refs.”
Two free throws from Brown with 6:12 to play enabled the Panthers to trail 44-34 — the closest they’d been since early in the second quarter.
“Obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I don’t think anyone can question these kids’ heart tonight,” Raban said. “We’re overmatched at every position out there on the court.”
But PikeView didn’t score again until Brown’s layup with 1:31 remaining and Washenitz had keyed an 11-0 run with six points prior to that to put the contest out of reach.
Washenitz made 10-of-21 shots and 6-of-9 free throws to finish with 27 points. She also led all players with 11 rebounds, seven steals and five assists.
“We did a really good job staying positive when they went on their run,” Washenitz said.
Laynie Beresford added 12 points and was a perfect 8 of 8 on free throws, while Starn scored nine.
“We all have a tendnecy when we need a shot, we’re going to put it in,” Starn said. “I just think of all the things I can try to do to help, whether it’s score or the little things.”
Despite attempting only two field goals, Meredith Maier added seven points in the win. Maier also had 10 rebounds, with she and Washenitz combining for all but six Fairmont Senior rebounds.
FSHS made 21-of-27 free throws, including 8 of 11 in the fourth quarter. While the Polar Bears forced 19 turnovers and had 18 of their own, they held a 19-13 advantage in points off turnovers, including 10-3 in the opening half.
“We didn’t get punished as much with some of the turnovers we had, and we were able to punish them with some of their turnovers,” Hines said. “We were fortunate. It was tough.”
Brown finished with 15 points and seven boards, while Hannah Perdue had nine points and six steals before fouling out her final high school contest.
“We proved to the state something and we gave PikeView a name in something,” Brown said.
The Polar Bears will take on No. 2 Logan in Saturday’s title game in a rematch of a state semifinal from last season that the Polar Bears won.
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