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Lewis-Bridgeport regional highlights high school week

by Mike Nutter

SPORTS WRITER

Getting here wasn't easy for either team. Getting out may be just as difficult.

In what has become one of the area's top girls matchups in recent seasons, No. 4 Lewis County (18-1) takes on Bridgeport (14-8) for the Class AA, Region III title at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Robert C. Byrd High School.

The two advanced to the title game after tougher than expected sectional tournaments.

The Minutemaids overcame a

nine-point first quarter deficit to defeat Philip Barbour Saturday, while Bridgeport rallied in the fourth to defeat Liberty and then held off a late Ritchie County run Friday to win its sectional crown.

"It should be a good one," Lewis County coach Gary Stout said. "I don't care what happened (in the regular season), I expect nothing but a battle from Bridgeport.

"The last time we played them, they played without Leah Snider, so that's going to make a difference. They'll be ready to play."

Stout said stopping the Indians means stopping their backcourt.

"The thing they like to do is get dribble penetration and their outside shooting," he said. "Plus, they're always going to play good defense.

"I think you're going to see whoever plays the smartest game and stays out of foul trouble win."

But while Stout says his team may be able to focus on the Indians guards, Bridgeport coach Dave Marshall says his team doesn't have that luxury against Lewis County.

"They've got a heck of a team," Marshall said. "They're so balanced. You really can't junk defense them or help on place or the other because they've got a bunch of girls who can hurt you.

"They make it very difficult to run your offense. They're very disruptive on defense and a difficult team to deal with."

Both teams are almost mirror images of each other.

Neither has a prolific score and both depend greatly on their defense.

Freshmen Lauren Gilbert averaged 11.3 points during sectional play, while fellow freshman Brea Mentus averaged 10.5 points. The Indians got a big boost from senior center Rachel Williams who gave the Indians an interior presence in those two games at averaging 11 points and 8.5 rebounds.

Angel Hawkins scored 12 points, six steals and six assists for the Minutemaids Saturday and senior Nikki Arbogast finished with 18 points.

n COSTLY FINAL WEEK?: Robert C. Byrd had its six-game winning streak snapped Friday in a loss to Parkersburg South.

More costly were injuries to guards Migel Lockett and Tyjuan Wright. Lockett aggravated a sore ankle which he originally hurt in a game against Grafton, while Wright suffered a slight shoulder separation.

"I'm being positive, but I think they should be fine (for the sectional game)," Robert C. Byrd coach Bill Bennett said. "Tyjuan actually tried to play a little bit.

"We're pretty fortunate that we don't have to play again until Saturday night."

Bridgeport's Nick Carbacio, meanwhile, suffered a high ankle sprain in a pick-up basketball game and missed the Indians final two regular season games. He, too, should be back for the postseason.

n GAME BALLS GO OUT TO ... : Brother's Justin and Stephen Kroll of Notre Dame. Stephen, Harrison County's leading scorer, had 29 points, while Justin followed with 28 as the Irish ended the regular season with a 92-59 victory over Hundred ... Robert C. Byrd's Tyjuan Wright helped avenge one of the Eagles' Big 10 losses Tuesday night when the junior guard went around over and through the Lincoln backcourt to score 28 points in a 64-59 victory ... Bridgeport's Nick Carbacio scored 23 points, all in the second half, and handed out nine assists in the Indians' 62-52 victory over South Harrison ... The Hawks guard duo of Justin Ash and Matt Boring harassed Doddridge County sharp-shooter Curtis Ash into a 3-of-14 evening Thursday as South Harrison defeated the Bulldogs, 59-50 ... Lincoln's Wes Osbourn scored 23 points as the Cougars defeated Philip Barbour to win the Big 10 by a half game over Robert C. Byrd -- the school's first conference title in 14 seasons.

n DON'T MISS: Every game is a don't-miss game, now. They all have meaning and all the teams will be playing like it.

Especially intriguing, however, is the girls Class AA, Region III championship.

Lewis County has been unstoppable against Big 10 competition this season, and for one of the few times, Bridgeport will be coming into a postseason game as a decided underdog. The last time the Indians came into a tournament game in this role was in 2000, when Bridgeport knocked off then No. 1 and undefeated Lincoln. The place it happened -- Robert C. Byrd High School -- also the site of Wednesday's game.

The Minutemaids, however, have been battled tested. Not only did they make the state tournament last season, they've had two tough, grueling games. Lewis rallied from a 17-point deficit to defeat Elkins on the road and survived Philip Barbour's best shot Saturday.

Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at mnutter@exponent-telegram.com