CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Despite having one of the best seasons in school history, Herbert Hoover girls basketball coach Greg Ullman indicated last week that, in order for the season to truly be successful, the Huskies needed to at least advance to regional play.
Hoover had to survive a wild sequence at the end of the game to do it, automatically advancing to regionals with a 43-40 victory Wednesday night at home over Clay County in girls Class AA, Region 4, Section 1 action.
The Huskies never trailed, but leading by six points with 16.6 remaining, Clay's McKinzie Barker raced down court and drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to a three points. Hoover inbounded the ball and attempted to break the press but the Panther defense deflected the ball.
A wild scrum ensued with Barker finally coralling the ball for Clay. Needing a 3-pointer to tie and force overtime, a pass was thrown near the top of the key. But this time, the Huskies got the deflection, and with bodies from both team hitting the floor, Hoover's McKenzie Edmonds finally stole the ball, and was fouled.
Edmonds, a senior, calmly stepped to the foul line with 7.1 seconds to play needing one free throw to ice the game, and drained both of them, giving the Huskies a five-point lead. Barker hit a shot in the lane with three seconds left but without any more timeouts, Hoover ran out the clock, sealing the victory.
"It was really intense," said Edmonds of the final sequence. "Hannah (King) came up behind me and she was like 'We haven't won this game yet, you have to make these.' I was like, 'I know, I got this, I can do this.' It's just a knowing you have to do it. Me and Hannah both know. We have been in those situations before. I was just happy I did that for them so we could win."
Ullman couldn't really remember much of the final sequence, but he did know that when Edmonds was fouled and went to the line, his senior captain would come through.
"I can't remember what happened now, I don't really know," Ullman said. "But most of the times, we come up with those balls. We are always diving on the floor and everything. When she (Edmonds) went to the free throw line, honestly, I didn't worry. I knew she had one for sure and probably both.
"She don't get fazed. McKenzie isn't a big scorer for us. I bet if I looked, she is probably at about four or five (points) a game, but she has knocked down some big free throws in other games and she's not afraid. She is so good at softball and all the other stuff she does. She's a big time player and has been a great senior captain."
With the victory, Hoover (18-5) ties the school record for most wins in a season, and advances to the sectional final on Friday night at Sissonville at 7 p.m. The Indians have defeated the Huskies by lopsided scores of 68-52 and 63-41 in the team's two regular seasons contests.