Big Reds earn hard-fought 61-57 win over Red Dragons | News, Sports, Jobs

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Parkersburg’s Lauren Flanagan tries to dribble away from St. Albans’ Nunu Pannell as teammate Audriana Medina looks on during the Big Reds’ 61-57 victory Tuesday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
(Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — In a Mountain State Athletic Conference showdown featuring a pair of ranked Class AAAA programs here Tuesday night at Memorial Fieldhouse, Trinity Balog pumped in a game-high 30 points to help lead No. 4 Parkersburg to a 61-57 triumph versus No. 6 St. Albans.

The 14-7 Red Dragons of head coach Rick Steele needed a win to advance to Saturday’s MSAC Night of Champions at South Charleston, but the Big Reds of head man Chris Murray will tip at noon against Huntington in the consolation game.

PHS, which improved to 17-4, actually took the lead for good at 28-26 with less than a minute remaining before halftime when Jensen Varner assisted on an Audriana Medina lay-in. Lauren Flanagan, who finished with 12 points, had a no-look pass to Kennedy Porter to make it 30-26 at the break.

St. Albans, set to play host on Thursday to Cabell Midland for fifth place in the MSAC, missed 11 of 14 from the floor in the third and had five turnovers as PHS led 46-35 after three. Although the Red Dragons fell behind by 16 and made a huge comeback, the visitors never got it back to a one-possession affair.

“I still feel strongly about where we are,” admitted coach Steele, who got 21 points from Nunu Pannell, 12 by Shayla Montgomery, 11 from Laynie Binion, eight by Annaniesha Johnson and five from Samyah Riggan. “We took a loss today, but there’s a lot of good things we can take away from it. There’s some girls that stepped up. We had some rough adverse situations that we either put ourselves in or that they presented to us. Chris Murray is a good coach and he does some good things.

St. Albans’ Shayla Montgomery and Parkersburg’s Kennedy Porter battle for the opening tip during the Big Reds’ 61-57 victory Tuesday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
(Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

“He played zone and that gives us some difficulty, but I like the way we moved the zone because we haven’t done it that well in the past. There were some things to take away that were good and some things we thought we could’ve done better. Everything that we’ve done over 21 games leads up to what’s getting ready to happen. Hopefully, this is a learning lesson. I think the foul differential was like 18-5 on their end, but it lets me know we got to get downhill some more. I’m not blaming the refs for anything. We got to get downhill and make them make calls. It was a good game.”

Not only did the Red Dragons fail to score a bench point, so too did the Big Reds, who got 11 counters and a game-high nine rebounds from Porter. Varner had six points and Medina two.

The two teams combined to knock down 7 of 10 from 3-point land in the opening quarter, but Balog drained a deep trifecta at the top of the key with less than a second to go to give PHS a 16-14 cushion.

Balog, who set the single-game scoring record of 44 points last week against Riverside to surpass the 43 previously held by Kim Houser against Parkersburg Catholic during the early 1980s when there wasn’t a 3-point line, opened the third with a trifecta and a lay-in as SAHS fell behind 51-35.

Nonetheless, Pannell knocked down two from deep while Riggan and Binion also hit from beyond the arc. Following consecutive hoops by Montgomery, who had seven rebounds, the Red Dragons closed it to 59-55 when Riggan had a steal and assisted on a Pannell layup with 52.5 seconds to play.

Parkersburg’s Trinity Balog goes in for two of her game-high 30 points as St. Albans’ Shayla Montgomery defends during the Big Reds’ 61-57 victory Tuesday night inside Memorial Fieldhouse.
(Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

However, Balog extended the lead back to six with a pair of free throws to help secure the victory.

“I think Parkersburg South gave us the template to what we wanted to do,” admitted coach Murray, whose team held a 33-23 edge on the glass. “I think we got up 16 in the second half and we built a lead there, but they are a good team.

“We knew that if they won this game they were going to get to the conference championship, so a lot of momentum and motivation to win tonight. Just really proud of our girls. I thought we played good basketball. We give a lot of respect to them. I think they are a very good team.”

Contact Jay Bennett at [email protected]

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