VINCENT - Trailing by three points to start the fourth quarter against the visiting Parkersburg Big Reds, the Warren Warriors knew they needed a few defensive stops if they were going to pull out a victory.
Well, the Warriors didn't get a few defensive stops.
They got a lot of them.
Warren held Parkersburg to just a single point in the fourth quarter on a free throw by Tori Wilson as the Warriors took a 50-37 victory over PHS as Warren High School Monday night.
"When we were patient, we ran the offense. That's when we started to click," said Warren coach Ryan Werry. "We didn't really execute that game plan until the fourth quarter."
It may have taken four quarters to get started, but once the Warriors started executing their game plan there was little Parkersburg could do to get back into the ball game.
After scoring 18 points in the third quarter alone, to double its point production at halftime, Parkersburg went into the fourth with some momentum and energy thanks to Wilson's trio of 3-pointers in the stanza.
But after Wilson's 3-pointer with 50.1 seconds left in the third quarter gave the Big Reds a 36-31 lead, Parkersburg wouldn't hit another field goal.
Making some adjustments, the Warriors found the strength they needed on the defensive end of the court.
"We knew that in order to win it would be about defense," said Warren senior Bailey Poage, who stepped up to guard Wilson in the fourth.
Down by three, the Warriors took the lead for good when Allie Grace Proctor connected on a jumpshot with 6:30 to play in regulation time.
Following that bucket, the Warriors would score 13 of the game's final 14 points, including the final nine from the free throw line as Parkersburg fouled to try and get back into the game.
"At practice we try to shoot free throws when we're tired," Poage said, noting that simulates an end of the game situation. "I think that really helped."
Ending the game strong brought the Lady Warriors full circle as they also kicked off the game with a pair of buckets by Kasey White to lead Parkersburg 4-0 with 6:11 to go in the first quarter.
From there, however, Parkersburg showcased why it was considered one of West Virginia's better girls' basketball teams.
Parkersburg scored seven straight points, all by junior Precious Ramsey, to lead 7-4 with 3:29 to go in the first, ultimately leading 10-8 after the end of the first quarter.
Warren bounced back from the sluggish end to the first quarter to take the Big Reds back and forth in a seesaw affair over the second quarter, with four free throws for the Warriors in the final minute of the half giving them a 21-18 lead at the break.
Behind by three at halftime, Parkersburg came out firing on all cylinders in the third quarter.
Sophomore Megan Morrison drilled a three-pointer off Wilson's assist to tie the game 11 seconds into the second half and followed that with a layup off another Wilson dish to put Parkersburg ahead, 23-21.
"When things got tough we didn't just lay down. We gave it 110 percent," Poage said.
After Warren tied the game at 23-23 on Staci Lauer's bucket, Wilson hit the first of her threes in the third quarter and Parkersburg began to roll, leading all the way to the start of the fourth.
"She (Wilson) was kind of sparking them there," Werry said. "We told (Poage) don't leave her, just don't leave."
Poage certainly heeded the advice and Wilson was forced to start making passes instead of taking her shots, and Parkersburg found itself trailing by three with just over 2:30 left in the game.
Committing a foul to send Proctor to the line, Parkersburg nearly got the break it needed as Proctor missed both of her free throws.
However, White had other ideas as she corralled the offensive rebound and got a putback bucket to make it a two possession game with 2:31 to play in the contest.
"I just felt we did a good job on the boards. That was a battle I thought we had to win," Werry said.
Wilson hit the front end of a 1-and-1 situation with 2:19 to go in the game for Parkersburg's final point of the contest.
From there the Warriors converted on 9-of-12 free throw attempts in the final 2:07 to secure the victory and improve to 3-0 on the season.
"We're starting to mesh together," Poage said.