State Tournament: Capital suffers hard hit in loss to Spring Valley
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capital's dream postseason looked like it might continue for about 2 minutes midway through the second quarter of the Cougars' Class AAA quarterfinal game against Spring Valley on Wednesday.
The cold splash of water that awakened Coach B.J. Calabrese's club came in the form of Timberwolves sophomore point guard Sarah Kelly.
With her top-seeded team trailing 25-22 and on the wrong end of a 10-4 Capital (10-14) run, Kelly embarked on what became a the first triple-double performance to include steals in Class AAA state tournament history, leading the Timberwolves (23-3) to a convincing 84-60 win.
"Twitter," Kelly said when asked if she knew of her triple-double, which included 20 points, 12 assists and a single-game tournament record 10 steals.
"Social media's wide these days," she said with a laugh, noting that she was unaware of the record until her team's post-game press conference.
Kelly broke a record of nine steals in a game, previously held by four players. Princeton's Amanda Smith most recently had nine, against Martinsburg in 2009. South Charleston's Renee Montgomery (2003), Nicholas County's Jody Williams (1997) and Greenbrier East's Lisa Dolen (1985) also had nine in a game.
Kelly fed Kassidy Lemmons for a 3-pointer that game the Timberwolves the lead for good at 27-25 with 3 minutes left in the first half, and the snowball just kept rolling.
Kelly hit 3-of-4 free throws and then canned a 3 of her own that pushed the lead to 33-25, and Madison Morris finished the 13-2 run that ended the half with two of her game-high 27 points.
The roll continued through the third quarter.
While Kelly was making play after play against Capital's guards, Morris was often the beneficiary of transition play. She scored 12 of her points in the third.
"I thought it was a good game for us to open up with. We didn't come and play very good in the first half," Spring Valley Coach Mo Miller said. "I think in the second half we settled down a little bit. The nerves had got to us a little bit. It's all new to most of these girls."
Spring Valley was playing its first state tournament game since 2003, a year after Capital made its last showing among the state's final eight. The Cougars upset previously undefeated and defending state champion Greenbrier East in a Region 3 co-final last week to reach the State Tournament.
Calabrese said the momentum swing of the second quarter was costly to his team's mental approach.
"You looked at the scoreboard and we're up three and it's late in the quarter and you're thinking 'Let's just finish the quarter strong' and you're going to go in with a lead," he said. "We made a few mistakes on both ends that I thought really, really cost us and suddenly you look and we're down six, down eight."
Spring Valley's ability to put the pedal down in the third was still the deciding factor, Calabrese said.
"Still, we were still in reasonably good shape. I come out in the third quarter and our press break really hurt us. We knew where we wanted to get the ball, we just made some mistakes and didn't necessarily get the ball to where we wanted."
Kelly was the biggest reason for that, since she was essentially everywhere. When the Cougars could get past the T-wolves pressure they couldn't often convert. Spring Valley outscored Capital 50-24 in the paint.
Spring Valley scored 26 points off 27 Capital turnovers.
"We just needed to our hands on some balls," said Morris, who also pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds.
Kelly's assist total was one shy of the single-game Class AAA tournament record held by Fairmont Senior's Jessica Parker.
Capital senior Keke Walker led the Cougars with 25 points while Khadijah Lee added 17.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT