St. Joe wins fifth straight title
CHARLESTON -- St. Marys came out to physically punish Huntington St. Joe with its noticeable size advantage in Saturday's Class A girls basketball championship.
At the end, however, the Irish punished the Devils where it mattered the most -- on the scoreboard.
St. Joe (25-1) used a 20-0 run in a seven-minute stretch of the first half to run away with its fifth consecutive Class A title in a 73-32 win over the Devils in the Charleston Civic Center.
"Even though we were very undersized, we used our athleticism and I thought our defense was excellent today," St. Joe coach Shannon Lewis said. "Pressuring without even pressing them much, we took them out of what they wanted to do."
The five consecutive titles matches the state record set by Summers County from 2007 to 2011.
It also completed a five-year run when the Irish have not lost to an in-state opponent. The last loss to a West Virginia team was against Wheeling Central in the 2008 state tournament finals.
St. Joe pulled away early Saturday and didn't look back.
St. Marys used a six-point run in the first quarter to pull within 13-10, but St. Joe rattled off the next 20 points.
The turning point came when Huntington St. Joe got a rebound and kicked to Griffin Dempsey for a 3-point attempt in which she was taken out at the legs.
Dempsey said the foul woke her and her teammates up really quick.
"I could feel her coming at me and I just said 'You have to shoot because she's going to run into you,'" Dempsey said. "I knew she was going to come at me. She wasn't very happy. They wanted to come out and make a statement and we didn't allow them to."
Dempsey set the Class A tournament record for 3-pointers in a game, connecting on seven in a 26-point performance.
Mychal Johnson finished with her second triple-double of the state tournament, ending the contest with 12 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and six steals. She did so while also helping guard St. Marys' inside tandem of Audra Clark and Kendra Walker.
The Devils' pair of 6-footers had dominated en route to the championship game, but they combined for just 16 points on 7-of-20 shooting with many points coming with the game out of hand.
Clark had 10 points and 11 rebounds for St. Marys (25-2).
In addition to the work by Johnson, Asia Petitte had a breakout game on the biggest stage for the Irish.
Petitte finished 6-of-7 shooting and added six free throws for 18 points while neutralizing the 6-4 Walker in the post and limiting her to just six points and four rebounds.
She said going up against a bigger post played right into her hands.
"I'm always out there ready to bang with whoever wants to," Petitte said. "I don't care how big they are. I'm ready to go every time. I knew today was one of those games that I'm going to have to battle with the two bigger girls because I'm the biggest on the team. I came out ready first possession."
Mychelle Johnson continued her strong work on the defensive end for the Irish, finishing the game with ninwe points and nine steals, giving her 24 steals for the tournament -- just two shy of the record of 26 set by St. Marys' Kelsie Fickiesen in 2011.
ST MARYS 10 5 11 6 -- 32: Britton 3, Moore 2, Ab. Fetty 6, Walker 6, Clark 10, Hall 3, Ashworth 2.
HUNTINGTON ST. JOE 18 18 27 10 -- 73: Dempsey 26, Mychal Johnson 12, Mychelle Johnson 9, R. Lee 6, Petitte 18, C. Gale 2.