PARKERSBURG - It all came down to the last two minutes to decide the outcome of the girls game of the 12th annual BACF Basketball Classic Friday night at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
And when it mattered most, River's Cassidy McCullough hit the biggest shot of night, a 3-pointer with just 1.5 seconds left to lift Ohio to a 74-72 victory over West Virginia, squaring the series at 6-6.
Ritchie County's Tristin Toman, though, gave the West Virginia squad an opportunity at a win after trailing in the game from 12:39 of the first half on - except for a brief tie at 53 -until she drained back-to-back treys from the same spot of the floor to give West Virginia a 70-69 lead with only 1:26 to play.
But Fort Frye's Micayla Hupp connected from left of the lane down low at the 1:08 mark to regain the lead for Ohio, 71-70, only to have Parkersburg's Imani Ward score inside at 14.5 seconds to push West Virginia on top at 72-71, setting the stage for McCullough's heroics.
"We came back down, moved the ball around and it just so happened that Cassidy was the person who got the ball for the shot, and it went in," said Rick Isaly, the Ohio head coach who is also McCullough's coach at River. "That made the win even nicer."
"Cassidy was a great player for me for four years, so it was really fitting for her to get that last shot - and to make it."
Ohio 74, West Virginia 72
(Series tied, 6-6)
Alexis Walsh (Marietta) 3 0-0 8, Kayla Swiger (Fairland) 2 0-0 4, Mackenzie Ullman (Warren) 2 2-2 6, Emile Weaver (River) DNP-injured, Micayla Hupp (Fort Frye) 5 1-2 11, Amy Fleming (Warren) 1 0-0 2, Ariel Schweickart (Ironton) 5 1-1 11, Cassidy McCullough (River) 2 0-0 5, Morgan Liedtke (Fort Frye) 0 0-0 0, Deidra Combs (Fort Frye) 2 2-2 6, Laken Camino (Frontier) 0 2-6 2, Alicia Murphy (Ironton) 1 2-2 5, Kaitlyn Cozzens (Marietta) 3 0-2 6, Jordanna Rauch (Warren) 3 0-0 8, TOTALS: 29 10-17 74. 3-point goals: Walsh 2, McCullough 1, Murphy 1, Rauch 2
Tristin Toman (Ritchie County) 3 2-2 10, Melonna Carmichael (Ravenswood) 0 0-0 0, Rachel Nill (Parkersburg Catholic) DNP-injured, Hannah Murray (Ravenswood) 1 0-0 3, Kenzie Smith (Williamstown) 2 3-4 8, Imani Ward (Parkersburg) 6 1-3 13, Dani Moore (St. Marys) 1 0-0 2, Logan Cosper (Paden City) 1 0-0 3, Leah Hughes (Parkersburg Catholic) 1 2-2 4, Megan Morrison (Parkersburg) 0 0-0 0, Miranda Workman (Parkersburg South) 2 0-0 4, Brooke Cieslewski (Williamstown) 4 1-1 9, Audra Clark (St. Marys) 6 0-0 12, Kennedy Walker (Parkersburg) 2 0-0 4, TOTALS: 29 9-12 72. 3-point goals: Toman 2, Murray 1, Smith 1, Cosper 1
Game MVPs - Ohio: Ariel Schweickart (Ironton), W.Va.: Imani Ward (Parkersburg)
Skills Competition Winners
3-Point Shootout: Morgan Liedtke (Fort Frye) 13
Free-Throw Shooting: Deidra Combs (Fort Frye)
After some early-going back and forth, Ohio broke a 13-all tie with a 11-4 run to surge into a 24-17 lead, and maintained its advantage throughout the half (41-36), then fended off W.Va. until a rebound bucket by St. Marys' Audra Clark knotted the count at 53 with 11:02 to play.
But Warren's Jordanna Rauch and Hupp combined for 10 of the game's next 15 points to give Ohio a 63-58 lead with 6:44 left. The lead was much as seven, 69-62, as late as 2:49 before Williamstown's Brooke Cieslewski' hoop followed by Toman's two treys propelled West Virginia into a one-point edge.
For the game, Hupp and Ohio MVP Ariel Schweickart of Ironton paced the Buckeye squad's scoring with 11 points each, followed by Rauch and Alexis Walsh of Marietta with eight each.
For W.Va., Ward, her team's MVP, took game scoring honors with 13 points, with Clark netting 12, Toman tallying 10, Cieslewski adding nine and Williamstown's Kenzie Smith with eight.
After Toman's treys, "we kind of had the momentum going, but we needed one stop there at the end," said West Virginia head coach Kelly Sine from Paden City. "We just happened to leave McCullough open, and she stepped up and hit the shot."
Sine said he "just had a feeling it was going to come down to a last-possession game. But it was a good game in a great atmosphere - and it was thrilling."