CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Known foremost as the first Christian martyr in Britain, St. Alban is known as the patron saint of refugees.
It was truly fitting, then, that his namesake school play the role it did Monday. St. Albans, which took its name from a town in Vermont, which in turn took its name from the town in England, was the hub of all things basketball Monday as girls basketball teams from South Charleston, Capital, George Washington, Nitro, Riverside and St. Albans either played games or conducted practices at St. Albans High School.
Designed to ease the constraints placed on teams and players resulting from the ongoing water crisis that has closed schools throughout the region, the day-long event saw healthy crowds attend South Charleston's win over Capital in girls basketball as well as the SC boys' win over Riverside.
Through the course of the afternoon, members of the St. Albans girls basketball team worked the concession stand.
Sophomore point guard Torri Wilson said the whole day turned into a feel-good event.
"I think it's great. In the state of West Virginia, we're just friendly people," Wilson said. "I think if you'd go anywhere else it might be, 'Oh, whatever. Your problem, not mine.' It's nice to help out.
"I'm glad we have water so we can help everybody else out. I mean, even ourselves. It's just really nice to see that people aren't shushing away anybody, and when you do something good it makes you feel good," Wilson said.
South Charleston principal Mike Arbogast said the event provided an opportunity for the schools to do something to help out their student-athletes as well.
"What we did is we gave all the kids a care package that included a towel and free soap and stuff like that," Arbogast said. "That way they could come here and get a shower. This kind of thing also provides some bit of normal life for everybody.
"In a crisis situation, a little bit of normalcy does a lot for people's state of mind," Arbogast said.
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GEORGE WASHINGTON'S girls team practiced at 11:30 a.m. at St. Albans, which pushed the Patriots one day closer to the return of senior forward Kelli Jo Harrison.
Harrison has been cleared to return to practice after rehabilitating her knee following surgery to repair a torn ACL. She is required to practice for 14 days before she returns to game action.
"We've done pretty well. I mean, we've got three girls averaging in double figures and I don't know what's going to happen when Kelli comes back. Obviously someone will be scoring less, but I'd rather have Kelli Jo in the lineup than not have Kelli Jo in the lineup," GW coach Jamie LaMaster said.
The Patriots are scheduled to play three games this week. However, with school cancelled again today it could provide another opportunity for Harrison to get in a practice, quickening her return.
"It's really hard to tell, the way it's been with weather and now the water situation," LaMaster said. "If we have games cancelled and we can practice that helps get her back sooner."
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WILSON IS also dealing with health issues. The sophomore was diagnosed with sports-related asthma, and has begun using an inhaler to counteract the effects of shortness of breath in games.
"When I play my face gets so red, but one day in particular we were playing in a cold gym and I started to feel like I was short of breath," she said. "I couldn't breathe. After that they gave me an inhaler."
Sports-related asthma — also known as exercise-induced bronchospasm — is triggered by exertion. Under normal circumstances Wilson's breathing patterns are normal, she said.
"I was in great shape and I didn't understand why I was breathing hard," Wilson said. "It was scary." Wilson, who said she became concerned over the matter because her older brother suffers from asthma, came back from a subpar showing in a loss to South Charleston last week to score 16 points and dish out six assists in a 50-34 win over Parkersburg on Jan. 11.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.tay...@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.