The St. Marys Lady Devils March 4 broke open a close game in the fourth period with a 21-13 run to outlast the Magnolia Lady Eagles 64-50 in the Region I Co-Championship at St. Marys. The victory earned St, Marys a berth in the Class-A State Girls' Basketball Tournament, March 13 in Charleston.
Kiera Standiford scored the game's first points on a free throw and Grace Berisford pushed the Lady Eagles ahead with a short jumper. However, two easy Blue Devil baskets gave the hosts the advantage, 4-3.
Katie Blatt tied it up with a free throw and Berisford took the lead back for Magnolia with a steal and lay in. But St. Marys 6'4" center Kendra Walker got loose for an inside deuce to knot the game once more. Displeased with that, Berisford again hijacked the basketball and turned it into an 8-6 lead for Magnolia.
The Blue Devils then tied it up with a pair of charity tosses, However, after a Kelsi Chapman deuce, Berisford added yet another steal and dished it off to Blatt, who was hammered in the act. She calmly sank both free throws to give the Eagles a four-point lead.
St. Marys tied it right before the end of the period, but Mallory Chapman caught the Blue Devils napping. Spotting Cierra Fowler wide open, Chapman dished off to her for a deuce that gave Magnolia a 14-12 lead after one period of play.
For most of the first two minutes of the second period, neither team scored any points until a Devil deuce knotted the game. Standiford scored on a rebound put-back to regain the lead for Magnolia. But, soon afterwards, the Devils swished the cords from the top of the key. They would then get fouled on a shot, but only made the first free throw.
On the second attempt, the Lady Devils rebounded the miss, put it back in the hole, and was fouled. They would then sink the another charity toss for a six-point turn around.
Fowler answered with a two-pointer for Magnolia and Berisford went to work again, copping another St. Marys ball. But the Lady Eagles couldn't cash in on this one. The Lady Devils sank a pair of charity tosses to push their lead to 23-20 with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Berisford added two free throws and dished off to Fowler for two more points to give Magnolia the lead once again. But the Devils would drain a threeball with 12 seconds remaining in the first half.
Magnolia had a chance to tie it up when Mallory Chapman was fouled in the act of shooting at the halftime buzzer, sending her to the line all by herself. However, the MHS senior missed them both with St. Marys leading 26-24 at intermission.
Chapman drilled her first points of the game, a bonus bomb to open the second half. "Mallory had a tough game. She struggled and that hurt us because she's our scorer," said Magnolia Head Coach Mark Blair.
The Lady Devils would score the game's next seven points, but Kelsi Chapman accounted for the Eagles next five points to pull the Eagles to within one at 33-32 halfway though the third period.
Foul trouble plagued the Lady Eagles in the second half, as three starters had four fouls in the third, and two of them fouled out early in the fourth. "When we got into foul trouble, we really had to change our lineup," stated the coach.
St. Marys would outscore Magnolia 8-2 the rest of the period, including a lay in at the buzzer for a 43-37 lead with eight minutes remaining in regulation.
Magnolia started to press early on in the final stanza and committed four turnovers in their first six possessions. Those led to seven unanswered Blue Devil points that more than sank the Lady Eagles' hopes of knocking the 22-1, second ranked St. Marys squad.
Berisford paced the Magnolia offense with 14 points that included a threeball, while adding seven steals, five assists, four rebounds, and a block. Mallory and Kelsi Chapman evenly split 18 points, while Fowler came off the bench to account for eight points.
In addition, Standiford and Katie Blatt each tallied three points, while Audrey Gibb and Taylor Ludewig each sank a deuce.
Magnolia will close the book on a productive season with a respectable 12-11 record.
The Lady Eagles will say adios to their lone senior, Mallory Chapman, who ended her career with 1,281 points and the school's top single game scorer with 43 points against Paden City last season.