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Champions again: Fourth quarter comeback leads Wyoming East to state title (With Gallery)

Mar. 9—It was more than three minutes into the fourth quarter and Wyoming East had yet to score.

Meanwhile, Williamstown had taken an 11-point lead and was firmly in control.

But the Yellowjackets, minus their senior leader, never scored again. And the big-game experience of the defending champion Warriors took over.

No. 1 Wyoming East scored 15 unanswered points over the final 4:12 and defeated No. 2 Williamstown 46-42 for the Class AA state championship Saturday night at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Playing in their sixth consecutive title game, the Warriors (23-2) came away with their fourth championship overall, adding to the ones they won in 2016, 2021 and 2023.

It didn't look like it was going to happen.

The Yellowjackets led 34-31 when they scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter. Faith Pickens' two free throws after East's Alivia Monroe picked up her fourth foul put Williamstown ahead 42-31 with 4:29 to play.

But Wyoming East stayed calm, and Cadee Blackburn's 3-pointer with 4:12 to go finally got the Warriors' offense going.

And the defense, once again, took over.

Abi Baker and Maddie Clark stole the ball on consecutive Williamstown possessions and dished off to Blackburn both times to get the Warriors to 42-38 with 3:09 on the clock.

With less than two minutes to play, Blackburn came up with a steal and was fouled. She hit both of her free throws — she was 2 of 6 at the line on the night — to make it a two-point game.

Then it was Baker's turn. Clark and Blackburn both missed 3-pointers, but got her own rebound and found Baker in the paint for the tying layup with 53.8 seconds to go.

Kyndal Lusk stole the ball for another Williamstown turnover, After a Wyoming East timeout, Monroe found Baker all alone for a short jumper and 44-42 Warrior lead with 14 seconds on the clock.

It was Wyoming East's first lead since being up 9-8 to start the second quarter.

Lusk stole the inbound and dished off to Clark, who was fouled and hit both free throws to make it a two-possession game with 3.3 seconds left.

Williamstown (21-5) turned the ball over nine times after taking its 11-point lead. The Warriors had eight of their 14 steals during that stretch and scored more points in the last four minutes than they did in any of the first three quarters.

Blackburn scored a game-high 17 points for the Warriors, who finished the season winning their final 18 games. Clark had 12 points and eight of her team's nine assists.

Monroe had eight points and six rebounds, Baker seven points and five steals and Gabby Cameron four blocks.

The Yellowjackets suffered a blow when senior guard Riley Landis left the game with a knee injury with 4:01 to play in the third quarter. She was driving to the basket when Baker's leg collided with Landis' left knee.

Landis did not return. She finished the game with 10 points.

Pickens led Williamstown with 12 points and 16 rebounds. Annabelle Haught had eight points and six boards.

The Yellowjackets were 15 of 16 (93.8 percent) at the free throw line. East was just 5 of 16 (31.3). Williamstown won the rebounding battle 34-24.

The game's last four minutes were more eventful than the previous 28. The teams combined to shoot 14 of 41 (34.1 percent) in the first half, which ended with Williamstown leading 19-18.

The Yellowjackets outrebounded East 19-9 in the first two quarters but were only 6 of 25 (24 percent) from the floor.

Williamstown looked to be pulling away in the third. A 10-2 run gave the Yellowjackets a 29-20 lead with 3:24 to go. But East chipped away and scored the last four points, including Blackburn getting a steal and making a layup with 5.4 seconds on the clock to make it 34-31 going to the fourth.

The game was the last for Williamstown coach Fred Sauro, who is retiring after a 54-year career that saw him become West Virginia's all-time winningest girls basketball coach.

Email: gfauber@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @gfauber5