ST. ALBANS, W.Va. -- St. Albans' Lexi Cooper hadn't done much since the first eight minutes of the opening quarter Tuesday night.
That didn't shake the 5-foot-6 junior shooting guard's confidence as she answered the call by making the second of a two-shot free-throw situation to send the host Red Dragons past Huntington 53-52 in overtime. A crowd of about 300 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference West Division matchup of state-ranked teams.
With the game tied at 52-all, Cooper stole the ball as Huntington freshman guard Lexi Sheffield threw an inbound pass to the top of the 3-point line. Cooper then drove to the basket and was fouled with 9.7 seconds left.
Cooper missed the first foul shot then sank the second to give SA a 53-52 edge. Huntington then called timeout after crossing halfcourt and Sheffield took the inbound pass and drove toward the right baseline, putting up a one-handed floater that hit high off the rim as time expired, sending the Red Dragons into a celebration at midcourt with several students from the cheering section.
Earlier, SA freshman Alli Johnson, one of the first players off the bench, hit two free throws with 36 seconds remaining in the four-minute extra period to tie the score one last time at 52-all.
Cooper converted a contested layup with 51.6 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to knot it at 42, where it stayed until the end of regulation. Sophomore post Cameron Davis had a chance to give the Red Dragons the lead with 5.7 seconds left but missed the front end of a 1-plus-1 free-throw situation.
Highlanders sophomore center Ericka Budd came down with the carom, but her momentum carried her to the floor and she was called for traveling, turning the ball over to SA. Huntington coach Lonnie Lucas argued he had called a timeout prior to the miscue, but after the officials gathered to discuss the call, it stood, and the Red Dragons missed a shot.
Cooper scored five points in the first quarter and didn't tally a point again until her layup tied it at 42 in the final quarter. Her only other point came on the foul shot to win it.
"You just have to know what you've got to do,'' said Cooper, who finished with eight points on 3-of-3 shooting from the field. "We always practice free throws. It's just something that had to be done.
"That was crazy. We couldn't have done it without our team being together. It wasn't just one person. We're like a big family and we couldn't do without each other.''
SA's victory was the first for coach Scott James over Huntington in his 11 seasons. The Red Dragons (14-4) entered the Associated Press poll for the first time this season Monday, tying for No. 10 with Cabell Midland, their next opponent Thursday.