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Girls basketball: Skeen expects freshmen to make impact for Indians

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It didn't take long for Sissonville freshman Madison Jones to make her presence felt at the high school level.

After excelling at Sissonville Middle School, the 15-year-old Jones made the transition in varsity soccer, finishing fourth in the area in goals with 28.

Jones made things look relatively easy on the soccer field.

The bad news for Sissonville girl's basketball opponents is that Jones is even better on the hardwood.

Sissonville Coach Rich Skeen will be looking to Jones to help lead the way for the youthful Indians when they kick off their season Dec. 4 at Mingo Central.

The Indians don't bring back a lot of experience from last year's team and will rely heavily on underclassmen, including seven freshmen.

"I see us being real small, and young," Skeen said. "We have four players back from last year's team that has been through it. They have been leaders and are helping the young girls out. The rest of them are all first timers in the program. I'm real happy with where we are."

The Sissonville freshman class may lack in experience at the high school level, but show promise for the next four seasons.

"We are very young but skilled," Skeen said. "They have played a lot of ball and were the Kanawha County middle school champions last year. They went undefeated at 19-0. That's great for a coaching staff coming in. It's a blessing to be able to coach them."

Jones, a point guard, already has been offered a Division I scholarship offer from Morehead State, and Skeen, who also serves as the boy's basketball coach and athletic director for the Indians, indicated plenty more will come her way.

"I've been coaching at the high school level since 1993 and that's the first time it has happened to me," said Skeen, of the attention Jones has already garnered from colleges as just a freshman.

 "That just shows how much she is committed. In her eighth grade year, she came to the high school for 6:30 a.m. workouts. Her goal was to get a Division 1 scholarship. She's got that now. Now it's to see how many she gets and for her to have a choice."

Jones shares her coach's excitement, but doesn't want to get ahead of herself.

"It feels good," said Jones, of the scholarship offer. "I try not to let it get to my head. I'm just going to keep working. It's not going to do me any good if I don't. I want to play college basketball."

Skeen also has another valuable commodity in fellow freshmen Karli Pinkerton, who turned in a solid freshman year on the soccer field as well with 19 goals.

Like Jones, the 14-year old Pinkerton is better at basketball than soccer, and said her best sport may even be softball.

"I knew it would be harder in high school than at middle school, and I'd have to work even harder," Pinkerton said. "I'm really excited and I think we will be pretty good all around. We want to go to states."

Skeen anticipates both Jones and Pinkerton to share roles at the point guard position and be on the court together most of the time if at all possible.

"With the offense we are putting in, we will have multiple point guards," Skeen said. "What both of them bring is they can handle the ball, can shoot it, defend, and are quick as a cat. You put all those things together, and that's a pretty good basketball player."

Jones and Pinkerton have a rich history of family excellence in sports as well. Pinkerton's dad, Shayne, played college baseball at Marshall University while her uncle, Eric, played both college football and baseball for the Herd.

Eric Pinkerton caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Chad Pennington in the 1999 Mid-American Conference title win and holds the record for the longest home run hit at Marshall. Jones' dad, Ryan, played college basketball at West Virginia Tech.


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