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Minutemaids overcome sluggish first half

by Jesse Skiles

CORRESPONDENT

SHINNSTON -- Lewis County trailed Philip Barbour 28-27 at halftime Saturday night, but the Minutemaids rallied with a strong second half, capturing the Region III, Section 2 title, 60-42.

"They (Philip Barbour) really took it to us tonight. They killed us on the glass, and they were beating us for loose balls. They did pretty much everything positive but win the game," Lewis County coach Gary Stout said.

Philip Barbour (9-7) did in fact play evenly with Lewis County (18-1), but simply did not knock down its open shots. The Colts hit only 16 of 46 from the field, and continued their season-long free throw shooting issues, going only 9 of 23. Philip Barbour outrebounded Lewis, 41-24.

Lewis County appeared tight early, and found themselves down to an energetic Colts team by early scores of 13-4 and 15-7. Senior guard Lindsay Casto led a second quarter charge, scoring 10 points in the period as the 'Maids narrowed the margin to one by halftime. The quarter also saw an injury to Tiffany Thompson, Philip Barbour's top scorer with 3:28 left before the half. She returned for some second half minutes on her injured leg but did not factor into the Colt offense.

Lewis County came out strong after halftime, opening with a 6-0 run, and extending the lead for the remainder of the game. Senior Nikki Arbogast led the way, scoring 12 of her game-high 18 points in the half, closing the night with an impressive 9-of-13 perfomance from the field.

"At halftime we knew we were getting beat up on the glass. It was simply a matter of us stepping up the intensity. We have five seniors, and we didn't want tonight to be our last game," Arbogast said.

Casto finished with 12 points, while Angel Hawkins scored 12 points and game-highs of six steals and six assists. Jaime Parker added five rebounds and five assists, with Erika Kyer chipping in eight points.

Michelle Nicholson led Philip Barbour with nine points and 11 rebounds. Dustyn Sandy followed with eight points, and Ashley Kelley produced five assists.

Coach Tammie Martin's Colts have now produced three consecutive solid seasons, but heartbreaking losses in tournament play has left the program without a trip to Charleston to show for it. A lot of the program's success has been due in large part to a strong senior class that played its last game on this night in Shinnston.

Lewis County will now face a 14-8 Bridgeport squad in next week's Regional Championship.

"We have beaten them twice, but we still know what kind of program Bridgeport has. We know that they will be coming after us, and we will have to come ready to play," Arbogast said.