Mountaineers claim 2nd WBI championship


Lindsay Vaughn

App State women’s basketball head coach Angel Elderkin embraces redshirt senior guard Madi Story after the team won the WBI Championship on April 3. Elderkin signed a four-year contract extension on April 8.

Silas Albright, Reporter

After junior point guard Ashley Polacek hit back-to-back threes late in the fourth quarter to extend the App State lead to 23 points, the Mountaineer fans inside Holmes Convocation Center realized what was happening. They cheered loudly in appreciation as App State (22-14) went on to claim its second Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament championship with a 76-59 win over the North Texas Mean Green (18-16).

“You don’t cry because it’s over, you cry because it happened,” an emotional head coach Angel Elderkin said postgame. “It was the most amazing feeling and experience that I was able to have. I love this team and I love this staff so much.”

Redshirt junior point guard Ashley Polacek led the way for the Mountaineers with a team-high 21 points on 9-12 from the floor to go along with four assists and four rebounds.

“She played a really good floor game. We kept encouraging her today to just get her shot, get downhill,” Elderkin said. “The way they were guarding her, we knew that pull up that she takes is a high percentage shot. I think she really rose to the occasion today.”

The App State offense was evenly balanced throughout the game with four Mountaineers scoring double-digits. Sophomore guard Pre Stanley had 19, redshirt senior guard Madi Story finished with 17 and sophomore forward Lainey Gosnell scored 10.

Lindsay Vaughn
Sophomore guard Pre Stanley finished the WBI championship with 19 points and was named tournament MVP.

Redshirt junior center Bayley Plummer added eight points while dominating the glass in the game. Plummer pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds and averaged over 19 per game in the WBI Tournament.

“The 22 boards, her defense, her presence in the paint is just so dominating for our team,” Elderkin said.

North Texas started the game hot, connecting on their first four three point attempts and jumped out to a 12-point lead early in the first quarter. The Mountaineers fought back to tie the game at 32 at halftime. App State took control in the third quarter, outscoring North Texas 26-12.

“We were a little shaky in the first half, but after halftime we refocused,” Story said. “Our game plan was to play solid D, one shot, box out and go because our offense feeds off our defense.”

After each home game in the WBI tournament, Elderkin picked up the public address microphone and addressed the fans, encouraging them to keep coming out to support the team in the postseason. The Mountaineer community responded in a big way for the championship game by setting the program attendance record at 1,823.

“It was amazing and our players really fed off the energy,” Elderkin said. “This is all they’ve ever wanted, to play in a community that really rallied, and our community really got behind this team.”

App State had a turnaround season after finishing 8-23 last year. The Mountaineers will take some time to enjoy the championship feeling before they shift their focus to having an even more successful year in the 2019-20 season.