Local Sports, Preston, Sports, University

High pressure leads University to big win at Preston in regular-season finale

KINGWOOD — If Thursday’s game between the University and Preston girls’ basketball teams had been played only in the halfcourt, the Knights might have felt pretty good about their chances of winning.

Unfortunately, the teams played the full length of the court, where University’s (12-10) full-court press barely allowed Preston (10-12) to get into its half-court offense en route to a 70-32 blowout win.

“We would do things and it would work and then for some reason, we would stop doing it for a couple of plays,” Preston coach Brian Miller said. “And then we would start doing it again and it would work and then we’d stop again.”

Despite the loss, the entire Preston High community got good news before the game when Miller announced that junior Camryn Sypolt, who has been in the hospital since getting in an automobile accident last Friday, was progressing well.

“Her progression’s great according to what the doctors have said,” Miller said. “She’s ahead of schedule so we’re hoping for the best of the situation.”

Miller took time before the game to thank all those both in Preston County and beyond who had reached out with well wishes over the past six days.

“It’s been a long week,” Miller said. “Friday was a long day when it happened, all day not knowing how that was going to play out and then Saturday was long. Sunday things got a little bit better and a couple of the girls had gotten to talk to her.”

After Miller delivered the good news, the teams tipped off what was both of their regular-season finales.

After an even first few minutes, University turned the pressure up on defense and began turning the Knights over possession after possession in the press. A seven-point scoring run gave the Hawks their first separation at 16-6 and it only widened from there.

“I didn’t think we did very well in (the press) the other day,” UHS coach Nick Lusk said, referencing Tuesday’s 65-54 loss at Morgantown. “I thought (Thursday) we did very well. We worked on some things (Wednesday), watched some film and it worked out for us.”

University extended its lead to 40-19 at halftime and then 59-27 by the end of the third quarter.

The Hawks had four players finish with double-digit points, led by Alexa Johnson’s 14. Lexi Simpson scored 11 while Ella Simpson and Bri Fox each finished with 10. Hannah Stemple also had nine.

“When we share the ball we’re good,” Lusk said. “Hopefully we’ll continue to do that for about another six, seven games.”

Preston was led by Kendra Nazelrod’s 12 points while no one else scored more than six or made more than two field goals.

“It’s a mental thing right now,” Miller said. “We’ve got several (players) that have been out for a while…The game Wednesday is the one that matters, not tonight. We kind of used tonight to figure out what lineups we could put in and what person could go to which position.”

Both teams begin sectional play next Wednesday. University, the top seed in Region I, Section 2, will host Buckhannon-Upshur while Preston, the No. 3 seed, will travel to Bridgeport. Both games will tip off at 7 p.m. and the winners will meet Friday in the section championship.

“Our goal is to see (University) again in a week-and-a-half,” Miller said. “That’s the goal, I want to play them again.”

University 70, Preston 32
UHS 23 17 19 11 — 70
PHS 10 9 8 5 — 32
UNIVERSITY (12-10) — Maisel 3 0-0 6; Stemple 4 0-0 9; Weaver 2 2-4 6; Braham 2 0-0 4; E. Simpson 5 0-3 10; Fox 3 3-4 10; L. Simpson 4 3-3 11; Johnson 4 4-7 14; Cox 0 0-0 0.
PRESTON (10-12) — Miller 2 0-0 6; Simmons 0 0-0 0; Nazelrod 4 4-5 12; Wilson 1 0-0 2; White 0 1-3 1; Sheets 1 1-2 3; Wimer 1 0-0 3; Metheny 1 0-0 3; Wolfe 1 0-0 2; Wiles 0 0-0 0; Wotring 0 0-0 0; Strawser 0 0-0 0.
3-Pt. Goals — University 4 (Johnson 2, Stemple 1, Fox 1). Preston 4 (Miller 2, Wimer 1, Metheny 1).