Trinity Balog makes history, lifts PHS past Riverside

ARKERSBURG — It was quite the senior night here Friday inside Memorial Fieldhouse as Parkersburg’s Trinity Balog and Jensen Varner were honored prior to tip-off of an eventual 83-37 blowout victory versus Riverside.

Balog, who hit a trio of 3s, made 16 total field goals and drained 9 of 10 from the free-throw line, established a new red and white single-game scoring record with 44 points, which knocked Laura Kinsler’s effort of 36 from the top spot.

On top of that, Balog also surpassed the Big Reds’ all-time single-season scoring record of 488 points previously shared by Lisa Cooper and Heather Hopkins.

“Jensen’s been my girl for 10 years, probably, we’ve been playing together,” admitted Balog, who watched the center go for 10 points, five boards and three steals. “We’ve been looking forward to this moment. Jensen is a great player and we’ve been through a lot together, a bunch of coaches, a bunch of travel teams and a bunch of ups and downs. Just coming out and getting a win on our senior night is huge. I had no idea of any of the records.

“I just wanted to get a high amount today because it’s senior night and I wanted Jensen to have a great game, too. I come off the court and they tell me I had the most points in a season and counting because we’re still not done, and most points in a game. I’m 54 away from the all-time leading scorer record in PHS history. It’s going to be a historic year for me, but to be honest I don’t care about any of these records. I just want a ring. If we get to states I’m happy. If I had 20 tonight and if we get to states it’s a win in my book.”

Parkersburg’s Jensen Varner goes up for two of her 10 points during senior night Friday inside Memorial Fieldhouse where the Big Reds ran past Riverside, 83-37. (Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

Riverside, which slipped to 4-16 and plays host Tuesday to Princeton, jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Riley Starsick assisted on Anna Roup’s basket and it was 4-0 after a short jumper from Sophie Bare.

Thanks to a pair of foul shots from Ava Ward, who had 11 points, eight caroms and three steals, and the first of five 3s from Laila Campbell the visitors led 9-4 just 2:52 in.

However, Kennedy Porter’s deuce from one of Lauren Flanagan’s game-high four assists started a quarter-ending 21-7 spurt. Audriana Medina followed with two charity stripe tosses for part of her seven counters and Balog proceeded to score 13 more points. She drained a triple to make it 17-10 and on the next trip down the floor she had a three-point play.

Parkersburg moved ahead 25-13 after Balog hit from downtown again thanks to a Larissa McDaniel assist, but Ward found Campbell open for a trey with two seconds left to get the Warriors within nine after one.

Balog, who had 16 points in the second and 31 at intermission while finishing a board shy of a double-double, opened the second with a corner 3. Although Campbell responded with one of her own, the Warriors then missed their next nine shots as PHS pushed ahead 50-19 at the 1:10 mark after Balog converted via a Sophie Lott dime.

Despite another trifecta from Campbell, Balog had a lay-in and then a putback with six seconds remaining to put Riverside in a 54-22 halftime hole.

The Big Reds, who shot 61.1% (22 of 36) in the first half, watched Balog break the record in a third quarter where she amassed 11 points.

PHS, which led 70-30 after three, removed Balog shortly after she started the fourth with her final two points from the foul line.

“Trinity broke that in the third quarter and we wanted to give them a final sendoff in the fourth,” admitted PHS head coach Chris Murray, whose third-ranked triple-A program improved to 16-4 with a home game Tuesday versus St. Albans. “Give them their flowers in the fourth and they went out and played about a minute and came out. That’s a league opponent. For us, when you get up big like that you want to keep a level of respect to the league and to your opponent and I think we did that.

“We’ve got a lot of respect for John Frisby at Riverside. He’s trying to turn that ship and that culture the right way. If he can stick with it I think they are going to be in good shape. A lot of credit to them. They are young and they are getting better. I thought they ran into a bit of a buzzsaw tonight. We came out and played as good as you can. A lot of credit to our girls. I thought they did a great job.”

Porter finished with eight points, while teammate Eden DeBord had four points and six rebounds.

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