CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's been a big week for the St. Albans girls basketball program.
The Red Dragons entered the Associated Press poll for the first time this season at No. 10 and on Tuesday night, coach Scott James defeated Huntington for the first time. James and St. Albans escaped with a wild 53-52 overtime victory at home over the Highlanders in a game that had four girls foul out and 46 total fouls called during the game.
"Yeah, however many years I have been coaching, 10 or 11, or however many it is," said James, of knocking off Huntington for the first time in his 11th season. "We are so tremendously proud of the girls."
The players also understood the importance of the signature victory.
"It is huge," said St. Albans junior Lexie Cooper, who hit the game winning free throw with 9.7 seconds to play in overtime. "Our coach (James) had never beat Huntington.
"We are the first team. It is crazy in our locker room. It is the biggest win of the season. That was crazy. We are like a big family and we couldn't do it without everybody."
James is happy for the Red Dragons (14-4) moving into the rankings for the first time this season.
"It is a tribute to their work and success," James said. "We just have to get in the mode when we play these top teams that we have to step up and play our 'A' game. That is what we did tonight."
In overtime with the game tied at 52, Huntington had possession of the ball with 13.5 seconds to play underneath their basket. Lexi Sheffield inbounded the ball for the Highlanders, and attempted a pass near the top of the key, but Cooper stole the ball and raced down court.
Cooper was fouled with 9.7 seconds to play and, after missing the first free throw, drained the second one to give St. Albans the lead.