Lady toppers fall in WVIAC quarterfinals

By Nathan Johnson, Contributing Writer

The West Liberty women’s basketball team finished a difficult season after a loss in the WVIAC Quarterfinals.

On February 27, the Lady Toppers started the WVIAC tournament as the number 9 seed.

Since they were not seeded in the top eight, they had to go on the road for the first time ever in the WVIAC tournament.

The Lady Toppers traveled to Seton Hill in the first round,   with the hopes to avenge an overtime loss to Seton Hill that occurred on January 16.

The Lady Toppers led by as many as 14 points in each half and the Lady Griffins never got closer than eight points the rest of the night.

Senior Kayla Ayers scored her 1,000th career point during this matchup and cashed in her 100th 3-pointer of the season.

She finished the game with 24 points.

With Ayers’ performance, she joined Hilltopper Hall of Famer, Melissa Hammond as the only Hilltopper to have 1,000 points, 500 rebounds and 200 3-point field goals in their career.

Junior Emily Blevins also had 24 points and 13 rebounds.

Sophomore Hillary Southworth finished with 15 points and six rebounds, as the Lady Toppers won 71-62.

Two days later, the Lady Toppers traveled to the Charleston Civic Center to take on top seeded West Virginia Wesleyan.

Two minutes into the game, sophomore Hillary Southworth went down with an apparent leg injury and was unable to return to the game.

Even without one of their leading scorers, the Lady Toppers managed to go on a 7-0 run to take a 23-18 lead with 10:55 showing on the first-half clock.

However, the Lady Bobcats answered with a 11-0 run of their own to go up 29-23, and lead at the half 48-30.

During the second half, Freshmen Bri Kamarec, and Senior Kayla Ayers combined during a 9-0 run to cut the Wesleyan lead to 50-39.

Ayers finished the game with 23 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. West Virginia Wesleyan was led by Lydia Bridenbaugh, who had 22 points as the Lady Bobcats ended West Liberty’s difficult season by a final score of 82-59.

West Liberty finished the season with a record of 15-15.

“It’s enough of a challenge to play the No. 1 seed but when you lose one of the top scorers in the conference right at the beginning, you’re facing a real uphill battle,” Coach Lynn Ullom said.

“We had some pretty good moments this season, but tonight wasn’t one of them.”

Ayers added three more 3-pointers to her career to finish her final season with a nation’s best 105 threes this year.

In her final game, Erica Hershberger added two more assists to her stats making her 10th on the all-time Lady Hilltopper list with 339 total.

West Virginia Wesleyan went on to win the WVIAC Women’s Championship against Glenville State 97-76.

The Hilltoppers would like to thank seniors Kayla Ayers, Jenn Cessna, and Erica Hershberger for their dedicated four seasons with the team.

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