Wyoming East knocks off champs, reaches title game
Wyoming East (51) Vs. Sissonville (46)
Mar 11, 2016
CHARLESTON — Gabby Lupardus left no doubt as to her intentions following Wyoming East’s state semifinal loss to Sissonville last season.

“I never want to feel that way again,” she said in a post-game interview.

The do-it-all sophomore guard had steel in her eyes when she said it, and Friday afternoon she proved she meant every word as she lifted the Lady Warriors to a 51-46, come from behind revenge victory over the Indians at the Charleston Civic Center.

East (22-2) trailed much of the first half, and was down by eight, 31-23, early in the third quarter.

“We had to get hot. I had to get the team clicking,” Lupardus said. “At halftime we came together and we’re not losing this game.”

The Lady Warriors were certainly in trouble against defending champion Sissonville. Lupardus was playing well, but 6-foot-4 center Emily Saunders and forward Allie Lusk were both in foul trouble.

East’s shots weren’t falling, while Sissonville’s stellar guard quartet of all-staters Karli Pinkerton, Madison Jones, Mikayla Long and Laila Arthur had combined for six 3-point goals.

Coach Angie Boninsegna kept confidence in her team, despite Sissonville controlling the momentum.

“We’ve been down 10 or 12 before and came back to win,” she said. “I had faith, no matter how many points we were down.”

That faith was justified. Guard Misa Quesenberry broke the scoring drought with a shot from the lane. Then Lupardus found Kara Sandy for driving baskets — not once, but three times on a row.

Sandy, who earned third-team All-State honors last season, had missed the first part of the season because of a knee injury.

She still wears a big brace on the knee, but it didn’t hamper her lightning-quick drives.

“I knew I had to attack the basket because my shots weren’t going in,” she said. “I had to play hard because I didn’t want it to end like last year.”

It was vintage Sandy, reminiscent of her 30-point game against Bluefield in the quarterfinals last year.

“I feel like I’m back,” she said. “I’ve adjusted to the knee and I know how to play with it.”

She finished with nine points and four rebounds after having played sparingly in the Lady Warriors’ quarterfinal win Wednesday over Tolsia.

“Kara didn’t play much last game because I didn’t feel the matchups were there for her,” Boninsegna said. “I told her she would have a good game today, and she was pivotal. Sissonville was tired and Kara had fresh legs. Then Gabby just nailed her. If you’re on the court, Gabby will see you.”

As quick as Wyoming East caught fire, Sissonville fell apart. They would not hit another 3-pointer the rest of the way, and it was their turn to get into foul trouble.

Following Sandy’s three buckets, Lupardus nailed a jumper and then hit a foul shot to complete a 3-point play as East finished the half with a 16-7 run.

Sissonville had missed its chance for a quick knockout when Saunders was on the bench.

“That was huge. We didn’t attack like we should have,” coach Rich Skeens said. “We knew we couldn’t get to the rim when she was in there, and when she was out we settled for open jumpers. We should have attacked the rim more.”

Ahead 39-36, Wyoming East got off to a quick start with a layup by Quesenberry, a beautiful, twisting drive by Lupardus, a foul shot by Sandy and then another soaring basket by Lupardus.

Sissonville then made its run to make it 48-46 with 1:05 left to play.

“We are never going to quit,” Skeens said. “We were down by seven with three minutes to go last year and we came back.”

Nothing else would fall for the Lady Indians, however, and Saunders and Lupardus had the final say.

Saunders grabbed four key rebounds and blocked a shot, while Lupardus hit three of four foul shots down the stretch to clinch the win.

Lupardus, a state player of the year candidate, finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. Two of her early baskets were from beyond the 3-point arc, a rarity for her.

“They were going under our screens, so I decided to take advantage of it,” she said.

Saunders had 10 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks, while Lusk pulled down eight rebounds.

Pinkerton scored 16 points and Reed had 13 for Sissonville. Jones, who hit a last-second shot to beat Summers County Wednesday, fouled out after netting just three points.

“I said earlier in the tournament that whoever wins the AA championship will earn it. We lost to a very good team,” Skeens said.

Wyoming East will attempt to capture its first state championship in girls basketball when it faces last year’s Class AA runner-up, Fairmont Senior, at noon today at the Civic Center.

— Email: dstillwell@

At the Charleston Civic Center


Brooke Reed 4-8 5-6 13, Karli Pinkerton 4-14 6-8 16, Madison Jones 1-14 0-1 3, Mikayla Long 2-6 2-2 8, Laila Arthur 2-8 0-0 5, Marleigh Bays 0-0 0-1 1. Totals: 13 14-19 46.


Megan Davis 0-2 5-6 5, Misa Quesenberry 2-6 0-0 4, Emily Saunders 4-11 2-3 10, Gabby Lupardus 7-16 4-8 20, Allie Lusk 1-2 1-5 3, Kara Sandy 3-10 3-3 9, Jasmine Blankenship 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 17 15-26 51.

Sissonville.....................11 15 10 10 — 46

Wyoming East..............14 9 16 12 — 51

3-point goals: S: 6 (Pinkerton 2, Jones, Long 2, Arthur); WE: 2 (Lupardus 2). Fouled out: Jones (S).

Nightly Roundup
Mar 11, 2016 Nightly Roundups
Game Scoreboard
Wyoming East 14 9 16 12 0 51
Sissonville 11 15 10 10 0 46
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