SMITHERS, W.Va. -- The hills where Kanawha and Fayette counties meet are full of coal.
What they are not full of is people, television stations or newspapers. That is why the one diamond produced by those same hills has gone largely unnoticed around the state.
Valley High senior Alexis Payne has led the Greyhounds girls basketball team to an 8-3 record and a No. 8 ranking in this week's Associated Press poll.
The 6-foot Payne is averaging 26 points and 23 rebounds per game and has begun to garner notice from college coaches.
"Just about every game, she has had a double-double," said first-year Valley Coach Richie Cantrell. "And that is with two and three players guarding her."
Last season, she was a second-team All-State pick after averaging 21.9 points per game for a 6-14 squad.
Before that, she earned honorable mention. That was after averaging 16.9 points in 2010-11 and 16.3 points as a freshman, while averaging double figures in rebounds each season.
A State Tournament trip and selection to the All-State first team is about all that is missing from her high school career.
Payne scored her 1,000th career point in the season opener and now has 1,238. She'll also likely pass the 1,000 rebound mark.
Being on a team that did not win often has hurt, as she has never had a chance to show a State Tournament crowd what she can do.
"I don't think they've ever even won the sectional," Cantrell said.
Cantrell is trying to change that, but inherited just two starters from last season's team. The other one besides Payne, sophomore guard Abbie Buchan, has worked hard to develop into a complement for Payne, and is averaging close to 20 points a game, but is still inexperienced.
Wednesday night against visiting Herbert Hoover, Buchan finished with eight points. Without a true point guard on the roster, Payne, the team's lone senior, often has to bring the ball up court whenever the Greyhounds are pressed.
"Obviously she's a great rebounder, so we almost have to play her inside," Cantrell said. "But she is pretty good outside, too."
An only child, Payne began playing basketball in the fourth grade.