MARIETTA, Ohio — After recording one of the biggest wins in program history, the Buckhannon-Upshur High School girls have soared all the way to No. 2 in this week’s AP poll.
The Lady Bucs (7-1) knocked off No. 1 South Charleston by a score of 76-69 in double overtime Saturday at the Ohio River Challenge held at Marietta College.
“This was one of the best games I’ve ever seen, coached or played in,” said B-U coach Jeremy Maxwell. “It was like two heavyweights slugging it out. There is a reason why South Charleston was voted number one in AAA in the last poll. They are a great team that is physical, athletic and fast and play up in your face man-to-man [defense].”
Hanna McClung fired in 23 points and dished out seven assists for the Lady Bucs, who seized control of the game in the second overtime.
McClung’s key 3-pointer with 2:17 left in the second OT gave B-U a 71-66 cushion and the Lady Black Eagles came no closer the rest of the way.
“Hanna controlled the tempo of the game and was able to initiate our offense, as well as get to the rim when needed,” Maxwell said of his junior point guard. “This was big considering she was [being] guarded by who some consider the best point guard in the state [Aaliyah Denham].”
Denham, an Xavier recruit, led South Charleston with 16 points. Lavender Ward added 19 and Haley Baker chipped in with 13.
B-U led 14-12 after one quarter and appeared to be headed to the intermission with the lead. But the Lady Bucs were whistled for a foul at the second-quarter horn and Denham sank two free throws to tie the game at 29-all.
Five straight points by McClung, including a trey, then gave B-U a 41-33 cushion in the third quarter. But the Lady Black Eagles used a 3-pointer by Ward to close the deficit to four, at 46-42, after three quarters.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth battle with the Lady Bucs opening up another comfortable lead at 51-44 on McClung’s trey.
However, South Charleston started to chip away at the lead, eventually taking a 55-54 advantage on a basket by Baker with just under three minutes to play in regulation.
A free throw by Allie Robinson tied the game before Lauren Bennett added two more to put B-U back in front, 57-55, with one minute left.
Smith tied the game with a bucket with :45 remaining and South Charleston then had a chance to win the contest in regulation after a foul was called with one second left. But the foul-shot attempt misfired to send the game into overtime deadlocked at 57.
The game remained tied at 64 after the first extra session.
B-U never trailed again, though, after scoring the first four points in the second OT.
“We won this game because of our execution in the half-court offense,” Maxwell said. “We were very poised and patient with their pressure. We were able to work through our offense and find the plays when they were available.”
Senior forward-center Makayla Reynolds added 19 points — 14 coming in the first half — and seven rebounds, while Bennett scored 13 points, all after halftime. Robinson also reached double figures with 10.
“This was one of the biggest victories in our program’s history,” Maxwell said. “It just shows you what this group is capable of. I really believe we will keep getting better and we are going to continue to get better as we move into conference play.”
B-U will face another tough test at 7:30 p.m. today when it ventures to Class AA, No. 1 North Marion for a Big 10 Conference encounter.
South Charleston, which also lost to new No. 1 Huntington on Thursday, is now 5-2 and is tied for third in the latest poll.
Hanna McClung 8 4-6 23, Allie Robinson 3 3-7 10, Lauren Bennett 5 3-4 13, Makayla Reynolds 8 2-2 19, Lauren Louk 2 1-2 5, McKinley Gaudet 1 2-2 4, Tatiyana Caesar 0 0-0 0, Ashton Maxwell 0 0-0 0, Brooklyn Maxwell 0 0-0 0. Totals 27 15-23 76.
South Charleston (5-2)
Aaliyah Dunham 6 4-6 16, Haley Baker 6 1-2 13, Rhea Smith 2 2-4 6, Lavender Ward 5 6-7 19, Jayla Brown 1 2-2 4, Shyanne Dunham 1 4-4 6, Olivia Jeffries 2 0-0 5. Totals 23 17-25 69.
B-U 14 15 17 11 19 — 76
South Charleston 12 17 13 15 12 — 69
3-point goals — B-U: 5 (McClung 3, Robinson, Reynolds); SC: 4 (Ward 3, Jeffries).