The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 1, 2014

No. 1 FSHS tops No. 2 NMHS in sectional final: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — Fairmont Senior’s junior dup of Kaden Whaley and Emily Stoller knew they needed to step up.

And that’s just what they did, leading No. 1 Fairmont Senior over No. 2 North Marion, 84-71, to capture the Region I, Section I championship Friday night from the Woody Williams Armory.

“Our goal is to take it one step at a time and to get that next victory and get down to Charleston,” Stoller said of the win. “We’re hoping to go far, but we’re taking it one game at a time.”

Whaley and Stoller scored seven and five points, respectively, in the first quarter and watched as their team had just a three-point lead over the Lady Huskies. But as the game raced toward the final buzzer, Whaley and Stoller’s presence took a toll on North Marion in the form of no-look passes, steals that led to buckets and an overall sense of each other’s game.

“We’ve played since junior high together,” Whaley explained. “We kind of know where we are and we’ll give each other the look, I guess.”

The two would go on to score a combined 51 points, with Stoller scoring 31 and Whaley scoring 20, but scoring wasn’t the only thing the two of them were doing to put their team in a position to cut down the nets after the game’s final horn. In addition to her 31 points, Stoller added five rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

“When (Stoller) is in her zone, by far one of the best players in the state,” Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines said of Stoller’s performance. “Best of all, she’s a 4.0 student. So she’s smart. She took what they gave her and did a great job.”

The game started off in North’s favor with a quick 10-5 run. Fairmont Senior quickly cut the deficit and went on a 6-0 run to take an 11-10 lead, sparked by two quick Stoller steals which translated into Whaley buckets.

“We wanted to get out and run and get them out of their press by pushing them down the floor,” North Marion coach Mike Parrish said. “And we did that at first, but we missed some easy shots that would’ve given us a bigger lead and we let them get back in it.”

After a 19-16 first-quarter lead, the Lady Polar Bears pulled ahead midway through the second quarter to take an 11-point halftime lead.

Stoller, though, would put the game further out of reach for the Huskies to begin the third period with two deep 3s.

“We knew we had to guard her and we come out and close out with our hands down, and that just set the tone in the second half,” Parrish said of the shots. “We got out there but didn’t get a hand up. You do that and a player like (Stoller) is going to make good shots.”

Coming in, the pressure was on North Marion’s senior forwards, Anna Marie Moscufo and Noca Singleton. Hines knew they would be hard to stop but he wasn’t going to change his game plan.

“Their post players are some of the best players in the state. What can you do about that?” Hines said. “The only thing you can do is try to guard everybody else and just don’t let them get touches.”

Singleton and Moscufo had 14 and 13 points, respectively, in the contest but when Singleton fouled out in the fourth quarter, Fairmont Senior had its way inside.

“That killed us. It was one of those frustration fouls,” Parrish said of the situation. “She had an easy shot inside and she missed it. Then she was frustrated and fouled. She’s a senior so she’ll learn from it.”

The pressure inside, though, allowed North’s guards to reap the benefits. Megan Haller finished with a team-high 22 points while freshman guard Presley Tuttle netted 16 points to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.

Whaley, Stoller, Haller and Moscufo were named to the all-tournament team along with East Fairmont’s Brooklynn Weaver, Weir’s Alyssa Shingle and Oak Glen’s Vanessa Hissam.

Parrish knows this isn’t the end of the road, as his team still advances to the regional game next Thursday but he knows, too, that this may not be the last his girls see of the Lady Polar Bears.

“I told them, we may see them again if we take care of business,” Parrish said.

For Hines and his squad, they need no added motivation after coming up short in last year’s state tournament. But this year, he said his team’s only goal is to get the bitter taste of defeat out of their mouths. For a team that’s won 19 games in a row, Hines said, simply, “We’re hungry.”

Fairmont Senior will host Ritchie County in a regional playoff game next Thursday at 7 p.m., while North will hit the road to play Webster County.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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