MORGANTOWN — Not a lot of people know how damaging University High forward Abbie Coen can be. Preston had an opportunity to find out Tuesday night during the Class AAA Region I, Section II semifinals.
Coen’s presence on the floor exposed a mismatch, as the Knights’ defense struggled to match her size underneath. The No. 3 Hawks consistently found her inside, and she converted nine two-point baskets on the way to a 19-point performance to lead University to a 74-36 win.
“She played hard. She finished every opportunity she had, she rebounded, and she gave us extra possessions,” UHS coach David Price said. “She came to play, and with her height she had the mismatch she wanted. She took advantage of it.”
The mismatch was evident early, with Coen converting a pair of baskets in the first quarter. As the gap in the Knights’ defense became apparent, University began to feed Coen the ball often, and she delivered with a 10-point second quarter that helped propel the Hawks to a 50-17 halftime lead.
“I was able to use my size to get to the hole and finish strong,” she said. “My team looked at me down low and realized that pass was there every single time.”
Coen’s performance demonstrates one threat that the Hawks pose that will make them difficult out in the postseason — a trio of 5-foot-11 forwards underneath (Ashten Boggs, Coen and Mallory Napolillo) that can transition between the post and the wing. Boggs added 15 points on the night, while Napolillo scored 10.
“On any given night, teams have a choice on who they want to play. We have three nice bigs that can score at any time,” Price said. “She can finish at the rim, she can extend the defense out on her and she has a great jumper or she can take them off the dribble. When you have someone that versatile, you can do a lot with it.”
The Hawks will host Morgantown at 7 p.m. Thursday for the sectional championship.
Myers finishes career at Preston
There was a standing ovation from every player and coaching staff on the Preston sideline as senior Erica Myers checked out of the game for the last time.
It was a fitting goodbye for a player who left an impact on the program, finishing her career with the third-most blocks in school history.
“She was a great rim protector. She allowed us to take some chances and play man — we’ve been a zone team forever and we became a man team this year because we thought it was our best defense,” coach Brian Miller said.
“The reason why it was our best is because we could take chances and get beat, and we knew she was going to be back there. She sent 100 shots flying the other direction this year.”
Myers looks to pursue a collegiate career, but hasn’t yet chosen a school. Regardless of where she ends up, she knows she’ll take the warm memories and the lessons of perseverance she learned as a Knight with her.
“It’s really sad that it has to come to an end, but I’m glad I’ve had people around me that supported me over the years,” she said. “I’ve wanted to give up, and I’ve had so many bumps in the road. My coaching staff always told me don’t give up; it’s not in you to give up. They pushed me so hard, and I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.”