ASHTON, W.Va. — It wasn’t pretty, but it was never really in doubt either.
The Wahama girls basketball team forced 16 first quarter turnovers en route to a 20-2 advantage and ultimately never looked back during a 45-27 victory over host Hannan in a WVSSAC Class A Region IV, Section 2 quarterfinal contest between Mason County programs.
The Lady Falcons (3-20) never trailed and also snapped a seven-game losing skid with the triumph, as the guests picked up their first postseason win since making it to regionals during the 2007-08 campaign. The Lady Wildcats — who defeated the WHS junior varsity squad earlier this season by a 41-22 margin — finished the winter with a 3-14 overall mark.
Wahama, with the victory, will travel to Huntington on Wednesday to face Saint Joseph Central in a Class A Region IV, Section 2 semifinal at 7:30 p.m. Buffalo and Charleston Catholic play in the other Region IV, Section 2 semifinal contest.
Neither team shot better than 25 percent from the field in the contest, and both squads went long periods of time without a field goal throughout the course of the evening. There were also a total of 40 turnovers between the two teams, including 24 for Hannan by the end of the night.
Hannan’s Pamela Black managed to pull the hosts even at 2-all with a jumper a minute into regulation, but Paige Gardner answered with a bucket for WHS at the 6:41 mark — allowing the Lady Falcons to claim a permanent lead. The guests followed 16 more consecutive points to end the opening eight minutes of play with a 20-2 cushion.
The Lady Wildcats — who missed seven field goal tries to end the first and 15 in-a-row between the cantos — did get a free throw apiece from Black and Tamara Wilson to cut their deficit down to 20-4 at the 5:11 mark of the second.
Wahama got back-to-back baskets from Bunni Peters and Sierra Carmichael, which gave the guests their biggest lead of the night at 24-4 with 2:25 left in the half. Clarissa Crank snapped a 12:54 field goal drought for Hannan at the 2:04 mark, sparking a 4-0 run to close the half out at 24-8.
The Lady Falcons — who missed their first 11 field goal attempts in the second quarter — finished the first half by connecting on 10-of-42 shots for 24 percent, including a 2-of-6 effort from three-point range for 33 percent.
HHS, conversely, was 3-of-19 from the floor for 16 percent in the opening half, including a a 0-for-7 effort from three-point range. The hosts also had 19 turnovers by the break, compared to eight for Wahama.
WHS went with multiple lineups and a variety of players at the start of the second half, and the Lady Falcons went on a small 8-7 spurt to take its biggest lead of the second half at 32-13 with 3:49 remaining. Hannan, however, closed the third canto with a 7-0 run — allowing the hosts to pull within 32-20 headed into the finale.
Jasmine Mayes capped a 5-0 Hannan run with a free throw, allowing the Lady ‘Cats to cut their deficit down to seven points (32-25) with 5:09 left in regulation. Wahama answered with a 13-2 charge over the final five minutes of play, giving the guests the 18-point decision.
“It’s great for the program to get a win tonight,” WHS coach Julia Hoffman said afterwards. “We were able to get all of the girls in and have everyone contribute to it, so it’s definitely plus for our girls.
“We know that Saint Joe is really, really good and that we have our work cut out for us, but any team is capable of being beat. We have some momentum, and now we just have to go do our best and hope for the best.”
The Lady Falcons were 20-of-80 from the field for 25 percent overall, including a 2-of-9 effort from behind the arc for 22 percent. The guests were also 3-of-15 at the free throw line for 20 percent.
Sierra Carmichael led WHS with a game-high 20 points, a dozen of which came in the opening stanza. Paige Gardner was next with eight points, followed by Bunni Peters with five markers.
Rachel Roque and Mackenzie Gabritsch each contributed four points, while Kelsey Zuspan and Olivia Hill rounded things out with two markers apiece.
Hannan finished the evening 10-of-51 from the floor for 20 percent, including a 0-for-14 effort from behind the arc. The hosts were also 8-of-12 at the charity stripe for 67 percent.
Pamela Black paced the Lady ‘Cats with 11 points, followed by Chelsea Meadows with six points. Heather Ellis, Delania McLaughlin, Clarissa Crank and Dylan Haynes each contributed two points to the setback, while Jasmine Mayes and Tamama Wilson rounded out the scoring with one marker apiece.
Hannan loses no player on the current varsity roster to graduation this spring.