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Petersburg outlasts Frankfort, 52-33, for 4th straight section title

Feb. 24—PETERSBURG, W.Va. — For the fourth straight year, Petersburg and Frankfort squared off for a section title; for the fourth straight time, the Vikings left the court with the championship plaque.

Frankfort, a heavy underdog after a 3-19 regular season, continued its recent run of good form and trailed just 31-25 entering the fourth, but that's when Petersburg's experience, and the Falcons' inexperience, shone through.

Petersburg dominated the fourth quarter, 21-8, to pull away and defeat Frankfort, 52-33, on Friday night to capture the Class AA, Region II, Section 1 championship.

"Frankfort is a team that we've had a lot of close games with over the last five years," Petersburg head coach Jon Webster said. "They're a team that we knew, even though their record isn't what it normally is, they were gonna fight until the end.

"They gave us all we wanted for three quarters, and I'm just proud we were able to hang in long enough to pull away and get another sectional championship."

Both teams advance to the Region II co-finals on Wednesday with a chance to advance to the Class AA state tournament in Charleston.

Petersburg (14-9) hosts Braxton County (11-14), and Frankfort (4-20) heads to Trinity Christian (18-5).

Those two contests are rematches of the past three seasons — all three of which were won by Petersburg and Frankfort. The Vikings have advanced to the Class AA state semifinals three years in a row.

Petersburg was paced by Abby Alt and Nellie Whetzel, who both scored 11 points apiece. Miley Tingler added eight points, and Sam Colaw and Addison Kitzmiller each scored seven.

Frankfort's 6-foot-2 freshman center Brooklyn Klavuhn led the way with a game-high 14 points, tallying 11 after halftime — nine in the third period. Point guard Lynsey Zimmerman notched eight second-half points.

No other Falcon scored more than four.

Frankfort held the deficit to single digits for much of the fourth quarter until Whetzel delivered the game's biggest shot, a floater plus the foul for an old-fashioned three-point play and a 43-33 Vikings lead with 3:41 to go.

From there, Petersburg was content with maintaining possession to shorten the game with no shot clock, and Frankfort was forced to foul.

Petersburg made 9 of 13 foul shots in the decider to secure the title.

While Frankfort hung around, trailing 7-4, 15-10 and 31-25 after the first three periods, the Falcons' inexperience, particularly in closing games, was evident in the decisive quarter.

"I think it's immaturity," Frankfort head coach Steve Willison said. "We only have one starter back from last year, and we're throwing these girls who have really never played varsity into this situation. We're playing against girls that have been doing it for four years, and you can see the difference."

Frankfort's 1-2-2 zone defense and height from Klavuhn and 6-foot-2 senior Madi Ruble, who had four points, bothered Petersburg for much of the first half.

The Vikings missed a series of close buckets at the rim in the first half, which affected their confidence.

Petersburg's improved ball movement was on display after halftime, resulting in 3-pointers by Kitzmiller and Colaw that pushed the Vikings' margin to a then game-high 29-19 with 2:20 remaining in the third period.

"We had a few really good looks early in the game that we just didn't get to go, whether that was nerves or just discomfort from their size," Webster said. "It caused us to hesitate a little offensively, and we just weren't able to get going.

"Once we came into the half, we were able to settle down and get those same looks to fall. And we were able to knock down a couple of jumpers. Once we did that we were really loose."

Klavuhn converted back-to-back buckets to keep Frankfort within six points entering the fourth, but the Falcons couldn't keep up, resulting in a fourth straight section runner-up finish.

"Any time you can win a sectional title it's a special thing," Webster said. "To do it four years in a row, it's a testament to those kids and how hard they've worked. These girls that are now seniors, to see them go from freshmen to this point and be a part of it in so many different ways, I think it's special."

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.