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State tournament: St. Joe wins its fifth straight

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - St. Joseph completed a rare five-peat Saturday, matching Summer County as the state's only girls basketball teams to win five straight titles, dominating St. Marys 73-32 in the Class A state championship game at the Charleston Civic Center.

"This is a special group right now," St. Joe Coach Shannon Lewis said. "It's tough to match up with them. I think we wanted to make a statement to show how hard we work and how talented we are."

Notre Dame commitment and junior All-State point guard Mychal Johnson agreed with her coach.

"It's special, and I don't think anyone has the feeling that we have right now," Johnson said. "I want to do it for the school and my teammates. We wanted to let people know who was going to win states, and we did."

St. Marys only trailed by three late in the first quarter, but St. Joe went on a huge run, scoring the next 20 points to seize control and lead 33-10 with 2:19 left in the half.

Griffin Dempsey led the offensive attack early for the Irish, including two 3-pointers during the 8-minute stretch that sent the close game into blowout status. 

The junior scored 12 points in the first half to lead the way for St. Joe, including three treys. Dempsey finished the game with a game-high 26 points on seven-of 15 shooting, all from 3-point range.

Dempsey set the Class A State Tournament record for most 3-pointers in a single game, topping Alexis Fulton of Tucker County, who hit six against Williamstown in 2012.

"I did not know that," said Dempsey, when asked if she knew of breaking the record. "It's cool. I had no idea. We came out aggressive against them. I think they realized they were going to have to foul us in order for us to not make the shots."

While Dempsey was finding her range for St. Joe, Johnson continued her solid all-around play.

Johnson tallied her second triple-double of the tournament scoring 12 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and dishing out 10 assists. Johnson had the feat accomplished late in the third quarter. She also contributed six steals.

In St. Joe's 89-29 quarterfinal victory over Man Wednesday, Johnson just missed a quad-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists, and nine steals.

"She is a stat-sheet filler, there's no doubt," Lewis said. "She plays a complete game. She can set people up, draw defenses, rebound, and is active with her hands with steals. It's no surprise to us what she is capable of."

St. Joe cranked up the defense, especially in the second quarter, forcing the Blue Devils into 16 first-half turnovers. St. Marys finished the game with 29 of them.

"We didn't quit, but their hearts were broken," St. Marys Coach Howard Meeks said. "They saw the scoreboard. They are a very good team. Our guards couldn't get around them to get the ball in to the bigs. They have three Division 1 guards.

Clark scored a team-high 10 points for St. Marys, but the Irish did a great job defensively on the Blue Devils senior, who shot just four-of-13 from the floor. Clark came into the championship game leading all Class A scorers with 21.5 points per game.

 "I'm pretty sure they were triple teaming me," Clark said. "It was just one of those things that my shots weren't falling. I tried my best. Every girl tried their best. It just didn't happen."


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