Apr. 3—KEYSER, W.Va. — It’s never a good thing when your leading scorer is forced to sit out large stretches of the first half with foul trouble.
Potomac State’s Alexis Yanosky had as many points as fouls at halftime, three, but, in a strange way, her break from the court was Garrett’s undoing.
When Yanosky returned for the second half, the Lakers, with just six players on their roster, were beginning to wear down. Yanosky exploded with 26 of her game-high 29 points coming after halftime, as the Catamounts pulled away from Garrett, 72-52, to capture the Region XX Division 2 championship.
“Today was a very nervous day for me,” Potomac State head coach Larry Kruk said. “We played Garrett three other times, to play a team a fourth time and beat them was hard. So, to beat them the way we did today, I was very happy.”
Despite being undermanned, the Lakers fought for as long as they could. They were even as close as 41-36 with 1:12 left in the third quarter after a pair of triples off the finger tips of Harmoni Swain and Maya Harvey. Swain and Harvey tallied 18 and 10 points, respectively.
A 6-0 spurt put PSC ahead by double-digits once again, but the Catamounts weren’t done yet. With just ticks left on the clock, Yanosky — who was named tournament Most Valuable Player — took a couple dribbles and banked in a half-court buzzer-beater.
In just over a minute, PSC turned a five-point lead into a 50-36 edge going into the final quarter.
“She plays with effort, that’s her biggest thing. She just doesn’t stop playing,” Kruk said of Yanosky, who also grabbed 12 rebounds for a double-double and was 9 of 12 from the line. “She’ll play until she’s blue in the face. She hits a couple outside shots, she’s a good shooter, but she just never quits.”
Not only was the run deflating, the enervated Lakers lacked the depth to keep up in the final 10 minutes. The Catamounts could seemingly score in transition at will, no matter how attuned Garrett was at getting back.
“That’s what I’ve got to live with, they are human beings,” Lakers head coach JT Lewis said. “They can’t physically run up and down the court like that for 40 minutes.”
Kiara Cole, who ended with 14 points and 10 rebounds, hit three treys in the fourth to keep Garrett within a respectable margin, but it was impossible to string together stops, as PSC went on to win by 20.
Still, to even get to the title game and remain competitive for as long as the Lakers did was a positive for Lewis.
“It would be great to win, of course, but I’m really proud of my players,” he said. “We played hard. They improved in areas they needed to, to give us a chance to win this game. That’s all that you can ask for. If you look at our last three games we played against them, we’ve improved every time.”
Though Yanosky tallied the bulk of the points, it was a team effort for Potomac State.
Makenna Douthitt, the Times-News girls basketball Player of the Year at Frankfort a season ago, had a solid game in the post for the Catamounts with 12 points and eight rebounds.
Jaimalyn Ash finished with 10 points and seven boards. Alexis Turner scored nine with 10 rebounds and seven assists and Kearstin Lucas tallied six points — both hail from Keyser.
“We’ve had multiple people scoring double-figures all year, we do it from a team aspect,” Kruk said. “Today, obviously Lexi Yanosky had a big game. But for the most part, we have a lot of players who are contributing a lot.
“We have nine girls, all of them have played, all of them have practiced all year. Different people do different things on this team, and it’s really a team effort.”
Now, Potomac State (6-2) turns to the East District tournament in New Jersey.
“I like our chances,” Kruk said. “We’re right there in the mix. I would say we’re maybe that sleeper team that can win.”
Alex Rychwalski is a sportswriter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.