WEST UNION-If any team plans on beating No. 7 (Class A) St. Marys during this postseason, it might want to make sure it doesn't send the Blue Devils to the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by one point, 36-35, St. Marys (18-4) made good on 10-of-12 shots from the charity stripe over the final eight minutes en route to capturing a 58-52 win over Little Kanawha Conference North Division rival Tyler Consolidated (10-13) Tuesday night at Doddridge County High School.
With the victory the Blue Devils, the section's No. 1 seed, will take on No. 2 seed Clay-Battelle-a 61-52 winner over Trinity Christian-at 7 p.m. Friday in the Bulldogs' gym.
St. Marys, which had defeated the Silver Knights twice during the regular season, appeared as if it would have little problems dispatching Tyler in the first quarter as seniors Andrew Cosper and Austin Bayless each scored four points as the Blue Devils opened a six-point, 15-9, lead heading into the second quarter.
The Silver Knights of head coach J.C. Kimble, however, had other ideas as senior Darren Heintzman tallied eight of his team-high 15 points to pull Tyler even at 23 apiece with 1:07 remaining until the intermission.
Sophomore Connor Lancaster, who finished with 12 points and eight rebounds, put the purple and gold back on top with a layup off of a Jessy Moore assist 37 seconds later and that would be the final score of the half as the Blue Devils took a 25-23 lead to the locker rooms.
Tyler Consolidated would be the first team to charge out of the intermission as a Heintzman bucket ignited a 7-1 run by the underdogs to open the third quarter. St. Marys answered with a 7-0 run of its own over the next two minutes as Cosper bucketed five points-three from the charity stripe-to lead the No. 1 seed to a 33-30 advantage.
A lead which lasted 13 seconds before Tyler's Heintzman drained a triple to knot the score at 33 with 2:50 showing on the clock.
Another triple, this one by Dylan Romine, gave the Silver Knights a three-point, 36-33, lead with 75 seconds left in the quarter. However, an inside bucket by the Devils' Lancaster sliced the deficit to one, 36-35, with one quarter left to play.
The final eight minutes were dominated by the Blue Devils' touch at the charity stripe.
Joining Heintzman in double figures for the Knights were Romine and Dylan Reynolds with 13 and 11 points, respectively. St. Marys was paced by Cosper's game-high 18 points and Lancaster's 12 points.