HAMBLETON - The Tucker County girls are once again headed to the state tournament after cruising past Pendleton County, 66-39, in a Class A Region II finale on Wednesday night.
The Mountain Lions (18-4) will be making their 10th straight appearance in Charleston next week, and will learn their opponent today when the pairings are officially released.
"We're excited for another chance at Charleston," Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose said. "We're playing our best basketball right now, so that's a good thing heading into the state tournament."
The Inter-Mountain photos by Joey Kittle
Tucker County senior players, from left, Bekah Simmons, Savannah Ambrose and Stephanie Betler celebrate after defeating Pendleton County, 66-39, in a Class A Region II finale Wednesday night in Hambleton. The Mountain Lions advanced to the state tournament for the 10th consecutive year.
Tucker County’s Elizabeth Nichols attempts to escape from Pendleton County’s Brandy Roberts Wednesday night in regional final action.
The Wildcats, playing without injured starting guard Seara Mallow, put up a valiant fight, getting to within 38-28 early in the third quarter. But the Mountain Lions erupted on a 16-1 run to build a 54-29 cushion entering the final frame.
The lead didn't dwindle under 17 points the remainder of the game.
Tucker County limited Pendleton County to just seven field goals over the final three quarters after surrendering four in the first quarter alone.
"This team is playing such good defense," Ambrose said. "They play so well together. It's a fun group of girls to watch."
The Wildcats used the scoring of Kaylee Edwards to stay in the game early. The senior had six of her 10 points in the opening quarter as Pendleton County trailed 18-11 heading into the second canto.
Bekah Simmons then took over for the Mountain Lions, erupting for 11 of her game-high 23 points in the second quarter to help Tucker County open up a 36-17 halftime lead.
"I just went out there and played hard and tried to help the team win," said Simmons, who was a perfect 11 of 11 from the free-throw line on the night. "To get back to Charleston is an awesome feeling, especially for me being a senior."
Fellow seniors Stephanie Betler and Mariah Bowley also reached double figures for the Mountain Lions with 20 and 10 points, respectively. Betler also dished out four assists and collected five steals. Bowley added three assists and three thefts. The fourth senior on the roster, Savannah Ambrose, was held scoreless but contributed 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists.
Senior Hillary Ord led the Wildcats, who finished the season 9-12, with 14 points.