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Girls basketball: Walker, Cougars upset Spartans

By From staff reports

FAIRLEA, W.Va. -- The Capital girls basketball team avoided seeing the Kanawha Valley shut out of the Class AAA state tournament for the first time since 2000 on Thursday and in the process shocked the entire Mountain State.

The Cougars, who have not won three consecutive games during the 2012-13 season, knocked off defending state champion and previously undefeated Greenbrier East on the Spartans' home floor by a 54-45 score in a Class AAA Region 3 co-final.

In the process Capital earned their first state tournament appearance since 2002, when Alexis Hornbuckle led the school to its second straight Class AAA state title.

"It was a super effort. Just a total team effort," Capital Coach B.J. Calabrese said.

Greenbrier East All-State forward Bianca Andre led all scorers with 17 points, but it was another statistic that quite likely paved the way to the Charleston Civic Center for Capital.

Greenbrier East (24-1) was 0-of-23 from 3-point range, and made few adjustments to its shooting woes.

Coach Jim Justice's team missed 11 long-range shots in the first half and 12 more after halftime.

"We knew we had to defend the perimeter. We played down there two weeks ago and got killed by the 3-ball," Calabrese said. "We did a good job, a great job."

Greenbrier East claimed a 68-57 win over Capital at home on Feb. 11.

During that contest, the Spartans hit 12 shots from 3-point range, including three from Andre.

"They played us a 3-2 and put a lot of pressure on our outside shooters, but we've seen that a lot of times," Justice said. "To play the way did was really uncharacteristic. Sometimes a meteorite hites, and it definitely hit us.

"It's a crazy game, and that's why I love it. Everything we did went haywire."

Capital (9-14) led 26-21 at the half Thursday, then extended its lead to 38-26 entering the fourth quarter before holding off a late Greenbrier East surge to secure the upset.

"We sure didn't take Capital lightly," Justice said. "But at the same time, we came out flat. My job is to make them not do that, and we just didn't get it done."

Keke Walker led Capital with 16 points and nine rebounds, as the senior standout was part of a rebounding effort that Calabrese said was pivotal.

The Cougars finished with 55 rebounds.

"We blocked out extremely well," he said.

Senior Brianna Harris had just two points but grabbed 12 boards to lead all players, and sophomore Dashia Foster finished with six points and nine boards.

The win assured that neither team from the 2012 Class AAA title game will play in the state tournament.

Bridgeport was the runner-up a year ago, and moved to Class AA this season.

The Indians have the No. 2 seed in that field next week.

Of the eight teams that qualified for the Class AAA state tournament in 2012, only Morgantown will play in the field next week.

Robert C. Byrd also moved to Class AA, South Charleston, Huntington and Wheeling Park were ousted at the sectional level and George Washington lost its Region 3 co-final to Princeton on Tuesday.

Seeds for the Class AAA state tournament will be announced by the Secondary Schools Activities Commission today.


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